Synopses & Reviews
“F. Scott Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in American lives. I have no idea what that means but I believe that in quoting him I appear far more intelligent than I am. I dont know about second acts, but I do think we get second chances, fifth chances, eighteenth chances. Every day we get a fresh chance to live the way we want.”
A wickedly funny, honest, and poignant debut novel in the spirit of Then We Came to the End and This Is Where I Leave You about the absurdity of corporate life, the complications of love, and the meaning of family.
Finbar Dolan is lost and lonely. Except he doesn’t know it. Despite escaping his blue-collar Boston upbringing to carve out a mildly successful career at a Madison Avenue ad agency, he’s a bit of a mess and closing in on forty. He’s recently called off a wedding. Now, a few days before Christmas, he’s forced to cancel a long-postponed vacation in order to write, produce, and edit a Superbowl commercial for his diaper account in record time.
Fortunately, it gets worse. He learns that his long-estranged and once-abusive father has fallen ill. And that neither of his brothers or his sister intend to visit. It’s a wake-up call for Fin to re-evaluate the choices he’s made, admit that he’s falling for his co-worker Phoebe, question the importance of diapers in his life, and finally tell the truth about his life and his past.
First-time novelist John Kenney, a regular New Yorker contributor, mines his own advertising background to weave spot-on, compelling insider detail into a hilarious, insightful, at times sardonic, and ultimately moving debut.
"The debut novel from New Yorker humorist and former advertising copywriter Kenney is a hilarious ad-world satire and a modest family drama. Finbar Dolan has a successful career in commercials, managing a diaper account for a big New York agency. Otherwise, Fin's life is a mess: he broke up with his fiancée a month before their wedding, is infatuated with his office assistant, Phoebe, and is estranged from his entire family. When his workaholic boss drags him into the office over Christmas to craft a Super Bowl commercial for biodegradable diapers (one of the concepts involves attaching Al Gore's head to a global parade of Earth-friendly babies) and his abusive, long-lost father turns up in the hospital, Fin's universe is tipped on its ear. The advertising insider lore and commercial shoot set pieces are golden; the family drama is less successful. Although set up to seem high stakes, events outside Fin's control guide his family crisis away from father-son conflict and toward less compelling internal struggles. As a satire, the novel is willing to bite off an ambitious chunk of popular culture, but as a human drama, it chooses to make safe choices. Even so, much is a comic tour de force; fans of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper will have a new author to watch for. Agent: David Kuhn." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
John Kenney has worked as a copywriter in New York City for seventeen years. He has also been a contributor to The New Yorker magazine since 1999. Some of his work appears in a collection of the New Yorker’s humor writing, Disquiet Please! He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit ByJohnKenney.com.