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The Bones: A Novelby Seth Greenland
I'm generally dubious about literary depictions of the comic life, but when no less a comedian than Larry David (creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm) calls a novel a "tour de force," well
Synopses & Reviews
A hysterically scathing first novel about ambition and its discontents.
Frank Bones is a self-destructive, take-no-prisoners, bad boy comic whose recent stage stunt with a firearm has cost him his audience and his bookings. Back at the bottom rung, Frank has no choice but to take his gigs where he can get them until, by virtue of a Hollywood miracle, he gets a call from his manager. A network has offered Frank his own sitcom, but there's only one problem with this long-awaited shot at success: Frank has to play an Eskimo, and ride an animatronic walrus.
Desperate, Frank calls on Lloyd Melnick, a long lost acquaintance whose position on the smash hit The Fleishman Show has made him the hottest comedy writer in town — even though he has never actually written a single episode. If Lloyd signs on as the head writer, Frank can have any kind of show he wants. But Lloyd is tired of his gilded trappings — the network job, the Brentwood mansion — and his social-climbing wife has left him mystified and unmoored. He would trade it all in for just a sliver of Frank's notorious recklessness or artistic integrity. When Lloyd turns Frank down, the consequences involve a crashed Hummer, corrupt police officers, enraged ex-husbands, sultry bartenders, and high-speed chases to Mexico and back.
A brilliant satire, The Bones is a stunning debut that reveals, in all its hilarity and ache, the dark heart of comedy.
"Be grateful for what you have. That's the moral of playwright/television writer Greenland's first novel, but what a wildly circuitous, over-the-top route we take to arrive at it. A pitch-perfect sendup of Hollywood's endemic self-importance, the brilliantly acid narrative centers on two characters, a rebellious Lenny Bruce-like comedian named Frank Bones (he fondly refers to himself in the third person, hence the title), and Lloyd Melnick, a highly successful TV comedy writer. The two became acquainted in New York when Melnick, then a struggling journalist, wrote a profile of the up-and-coming Bones. Greenland reunites the pair years later after Melnick scores a huge contract writing for a network and Bones comes calling, asking for Melnick's help writing a sitcom based on the comedian's own life (his only other prospect is a role as a sitcom Eskimo). Melnick, who is grappling with his success and desperately struggling to write something meaningful of his own, turns Bones down, a snub that sets off a crazy chain reaction that results in a Hummer parked in the living room of Melnick's posh manse followed by a classic cops-and-robbers run for the border. Greenland keeps his foot firmly on the gas, and the book's pace is fast, furious and fun. The author slows down enough along the way to expound intelligently on topics ranging from self-knowledge to 'the anxiety of affluence,' but the pace of this raucous thrill ride never slackens. Agent, Henry Dunow. FYI: Film rights have been sold to Sony, with David Mamet set to helm." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[W]itty, sharp and surprisingly engaging....The Bones is paced tightly, and the transitions between Bones's and Melnick's narratives are mostly effortless....The Bones is not a perfect novel, but Greenland has serious skills." The Washington Post
"Employing both broad strokes (a vengeful Frank drives a yellow Hummer through Lloyd's living room) and polished, extremely funny one-liners, Greenland takes readers on an entertaining, behind-the-scenes tour of sitcoms and their socially maladroit, dyspeptic creators." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
"This smart TV-biz satire delivers not just laughs, but some real emotional insight into its diverse, vividly drawn characters. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Who is Seth Greenland and how did he get into my house and gain access to the most secret and disturbed places of my brain? He cuts so close to the bone he whittles it into a fine powder that gets into the clothes you wear and the air you breathe. The Bones is a tour de force, and I rarely use French phrases." Larry David, creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm and co-creator of Seinfeld
"Mr. Greenland writes beautifully. His book is a stitch." David Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross
"The Bones is a winning and endearing book, a laugh-out-loud satire and a page turner with a big-bang ending....[A] remarkable debut novel." Los Angeles Times
"The Bones is a genuine, unabashedly old-school Hollywood romp, with enough insider references to keep even the cagiest entertainment aficionado clawing the carpet. The novel evokes the classic glitzoid rough-and-tumbles of Nathanael West and the great Terry Southern, the author packs a weird genius for finding the single most lamentable detail in any scene. Greenland owns the rare — and for a reader, profound — ability to suffuse his most disturbing evocations with love for the very show business tropes he loathes the most." Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty and Permanent Midnight
"[E]mbraces the satisfying if small-minded moral that fame, success and unimaginable wealth do not necessarily lift the veil of loneliness and self-loathing. In that way, The Bones is quite consoling for us schlubs with noses pressed against the window." Baltimore Sun
"Greenland...is at his best with the rat-a-tat- tat dialogue between his primary characters....Fortunately, the book never pretends to be serious literature. It's a fun romp with some simple lessons about taking risks and unmasking your pain." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Greenland elegantly avoids the usual Hollywood novel trap....The novel is peppered with sharply observed set pieces and inside-baseball theorems...that bring to mind Tom Wolfe at his most culturally astute." San Francisco Chronicle
"[An] exuberant, massively untidy first novel....An often hilarious kitchen sink of a debut, one more example of a satire providing new examples left and right of the excesses it thinks it's condemning." Kirkus Reviews
"The Bones takes its best turns as the balance of power between Lloyd and Frank undergoes various shifts....[It] is a portrait of the artist who would never dream of choosing the road to recovery over the road to ruin." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Frank Bones is a self-destructive, take-no-prisoners, bad boy comic at the bottom rung. Lloyd Melnick is a long-lost acquaintance whose work on the smash hit The Fleishman Show has made him the hottest comedy writer in town. When their worlds collide the consequences involve a crashed Hummer, corrupt police officers, enraged ex-husbands, sultry bartenders, and high-speed chases to Mexico and back. A brilliant satire, The Bones is a stunning debut that reveals, in all its hilarity and ache, the dark heart of comedy.
About the Author
Seth Greenland is an award-winning playwright. He has also written extensively for film and television. This is his first novel.
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