KNIFEBOY by Tod Harrison Williams


Email this review


No, this debut novel is not about street gangs or plastic surgeons but about a door-to-door salesman involved in hypercompetitive cutlery sales.

Jay Hauser has just completed his first year at Dartmouth. He’s trying to decide what “cool” fraternity to join, but in the midst of this major life decision he has a summer to contend with. Challenged by a potential girlfriend that he’s not cut out to be a successful knife salesman because he’s not “charming” enough, he vows both to woo customers with his charm and to beat the competition. Working out of his home in the Detroit suburbs, Jay starts hitting up his divorced parents, his grandparents, his friends’ parents and even his maid, trying to persuade them all to purchase expensive sets of Bladeworks knives. He hones his selling strategies and even develops a few of his own outside the scripted ones provided by the company. Horatio Alger–like, after the first “push period” he finds himself as the most successful salesmen in his region. Jay’s response is to become even more competitive, hoping eventually to overtake Jorge Acuña from Puerto Rico or perhaps even the legendary Reid Tallenger, who’s made more than $800,000 over the course of his career. Bladeworks managers are so impressed by Jay’s sales record that they break precedent by inviting him to speak at one of the summer sales meetings, hoping he’ll inspire others during the traditionally slow days of late summer. (The motivational motto Jay comes up with is “Kick Ass in August.”) Meanwhile, Jay is trying to balance the demands of his social life by maintaining a sexual relationship with his girlfriend Brooke while pursuing Isabelle, a girl he’d originally tagged as “not hot enough.”

This mildly comic novel seems to have been written almost solely with an eye to film adaptation, probably an Adam Sandler vehicle.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4165-3821-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2007