LLOYD: WHAT HAPPENED

Gassy, deadpan first novel, a tour de farce that both reviles and celebrates the pretentious, treacherous, and luxurious world of corporate middle management, revealed here by Fortune magazine’s business columnist. Bing (in reality Gil Schwartz, also an executive for CBS) offers a mostly plotless series of vignettes about a handful of feckless, back-scratching, buzz-talking senior executives at an unnamed, generic New York corporate conglomerate who are boozing, golfing, gorging, and fornicating their way toward “Moby Deal,” a $100 billion multinational merger that just might make their company the world’s biggest business entity. At story’s center is Lloyd, a good-natured, contentedly married, brown-nosing laptop toter who’s not too wise or too foolish to be anything other than he is (which seems mainly to be a translator of the tenuous lip chewings of his boss, Walt, into zingy corporate-speak). We watch as Lloyd and his fellows attend pointless meetings, wallow in overpriced hotel rooms, guzzle top-shelf liquors, and shed no more than a token tear as they fire thousands of loyal employees to “make the numbers” that their shadowy Chicago CEO, Arthur, wants to see. Bing’s uproarious accounts of boardroom drivel and the sharply dressed buffoons that spout it are more than merely dead-on—he shows that such tactics, however silly, are the tools of a trade whose practitioners are always trying to prove to themselves indispensable. Lloyd ducks the vengeful schemes of his coke-sniffing subordinate Ron, parties heartily, takes his family to Disney World, heroically attends a meeting via cell phone from inside a stranded elevator, and ultimately kills Moby Deal when he learns it will wipe out the worthless chums he’s grown to love. A scathingly snide, occasionally grating send-up of American business that’s rendered with expertise, affection, and flashes of satiric brilliance by one who’s lived it. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-517-70349-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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