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Theme Song for an Old Showby Jeffrey Lewis
Synopses & Reviews
A deeply felt homage to classic television from the author of Meritocracy and The Conference of the Birds.
One of the most beloved programs in the history of television, the cop show Northie, has fallen into a ratings slump. Will it be cannibalized by unscrupulous studio executives for one last burst of high scores? Or will it be allowed to conclude its run in dignity?
These are the questions faced by the protagonist Louie, now a television producer, in this third volume of Jeffrey Lewis's "Meritocracy Quartet." Zacky Kurtz, the "King of Television," who is obsessed by the possibility of being the first producer to get "bare ass" on network television, drives the plot toward a conclusion that is as passionate an indictment of our mass culture's coarsening as American literature has recently produced.
Yet Theme Song for an Old Show is about more than dirty business on television. It is an elegiac tribute to the medium, and to the kind of show of which Louie was a proud part, and to Louie’s father, a television producer of an earlier, more naïve era.
PRAISE FOR JEFFREY LEWIS'S MERITOCRACY: A LOVE STORY: "A hauntingly beautiful love story...loaded with powerful characters...written by a writer with consummate skill."
- The Portland Press-Herald
"A sheen of nostalgia glazes this tribute to privileged college kids in the 1960s...a paean to lost youth and hopes."
- Publishers Weekly
"Jeffrey Lewis's wonderful novel Meritocracy [has] historical perspective and reach...A tragic story about what could have been and what wasn't."
- The Jerusalem Post
"Lewis's diverting third novel, a part of his ongoing Meritocracy Quartet (following The Conference of the Birds), concerns a writer, Louie, working on the third novel of a series called the Meritocracy Quartet. Lewis coproduced and wrote for the 1980s cop show Hill Street Blues; his first-person protagonist similarly contributes to a cop show called Northie. Told in retrospect, the novel takes Louie through the 1980s (the first two books cover the '60s and '70s), when he moves to L.A.: his father, Bill, who abandoned the family, lives there with his current wife. After meeting a woman named Melissa (who has recently overdosed), Louie breaks into Hollywood by joining Northie. He has a strange relationship with Northie producer Kurtz, Melissa's ex- and one of Louie's several father substitutes (a pattern Louie acknowledges). Melissa gets pregnant, and she and Louie marry; later, despite trepidation all around, they have a second child. Despite unnecessary metafictional trappings and a forgivingly loose format, Louie's story is consistently entertaining." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Set against the backdrop of four decades of changing American landscape, the characters in The Meritocracy Quartet sweep in and out of this grand narrative, reflecting the passage of time and the rise of different social and cultural ideals. The four novels are a testament to Americas changing personality - each seeking to define it for themselves. For America is the central character, the panorama against which the characters play out their lives.
Acclaimed writer Jeffrey Lewis is known for his deft portrayals of relatable figures from all walks of life. In The Meritocracy Quartet, his four interlinking novels—Meritocracy: A Love Story, The Conference of the Birds, Theme Song for an Old Show, and Adam the King—have been brought together for the first time into a single volume. Set against the backdrop of the changing American landscape over four decades, The Meritocracy Quartet is a testament to the countrys evolving personality.
The quartet follows Louie, a Yale graduate from a modest background with a gift for forging connections in high and low places. Beginning in the 1960s, as he documents a going-away party for a fellow Yalie on his way to Vietnam, and continuing through his spiritual encounters with a 1970s group of city misfits, his turn to television writing in the 1980s, and a tragic love story between two of his close friends in the 1990s, Louie chronicles not only his own personal struggles—his silent love for his best friends girl, his delicate relationship with an at-times absent father—but also the attitudes, events, and people that marked his generation. From the Vietnam War to George W. Bush, from television trends to the divide between the haves and have-nots, The Meritocracy Quartet is a moving witness to everything America had to offer in the latter portion of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Jeffrey Lewis won two Emmys and many other honors as a writer and producer of Hill Street Blues. His "Meritocracy Quartet" is intended to chart the progress of a generation. The first book of the quartet Meritocracy: A Love Story, won both the Independent Publishers Book Award for General Fiction and the ForeWord Book of the Year Silver Award for Fiction. He lives in Los Angeles and Castine, Maine.
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