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A witty debut of manners and mores in the author’s “two separate Los Angeleses”—separated geographically, demographically and “psychographically.”

First, there’s the “upper” L.A., driven by the entertainment biz, the L.A. of big stars, big cars, big deals: glitzy, bigger than life L.A. Young Perry Newman is part of that world. He’s got a fat sitcom development deal and a gorgeous super-savvy producer-girlfriend to go with it. On the other hand, his twin brother Tim is quintessentially “lower” L.A., the L.A. on the fringe of the myth and the magic, where people work for insurance companies and the like and behave more or less as they might in Des Moines or Albuquerque. Tim has a low-powered job with the kind of piddling existence that provides. Even in the bosom of his fond if slightly wacky family, Tim is regarded as a lovable underachiever whose major accomplishment lies in the neat way he defines, by contrast, his twin’s upperness. Nor—in the sibling sweepstakes—does it help that Tim is gay. Suddenly, however, the script twists. Perry, sabotaged out of his fat sitcom deal by his super-savvy girlfriend-producer, finds himself a substitute English teacher in a private school of no distinction, while Tim, heretofore an anonymous reporter on an entertainment Web site, unexpectedly finds himself a hot commodity, with his column syndicated in 200 newspapers. In short, the brothers have switched L.A.’s, confusing themselves, their parents, and just about everyone who knows them. But that’s okay. Confusion is a condition the Newmans have always thrived in. Pretty soon Mom Newman, for instance, has adjusted well enough to plan a new, albeit lower-level, career for herself—teaching yoga to those who need it most, she says: the homeless.

Satire that’s more affectionate than barbed: a good-humored look at the L.A. that Randall, executive editor of Playboy, grew up in, still lives in, and is titillated by—at both levels.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-26216-7
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2001