Rita Rudner, Author . Pocket $25 (314p) ISBN 0-7434-4261-X

Comedian Rudner serves up a genial showbiz soufflé in her debut novel. Mindy Solomon, the star of what many will perceive to be a semiautobiographical story, is a young dancer from Florida who packs her bags to head for the bright lights of New York City in 1980. Once installed in a seedy women's hotel, she meets a gorgeous, blonde aspiring model named Ursula. They become fast friends, and each sets out to pursue her dream. When an accident prematurely ends Mindy's dancing career, she is drawn to the world of stand-up comedy and begins to hone an act, teaming up with veteran writer and funnywoman Penelope. Ursula's career skyrockets (despite constant meddling from her troubled mother, Eva, a former beauty herself), while Mindy struggles for success. After a break on the Letterman show, it seems that everything is finally coming together, with a chance for a starring role on a sitcom—but when the part goes to Ursula instead, Mindy is devastated. Chucking her friends and moving back in with her father in Florida, she tries to regain her sense of humor and find herself. There's more, of course—births, marriages, divorce, disasters, three-hanky reunions and a neat fairy tale wrap-up. What Rudner sacrifices in originality she gains with her famous one-liners larded throughout; the tidbits on the process of comedy thinking and writing, while too few, offer insights into the evolution of an act. Brisk, breezy and chock-full of cartoonish but lovable characters, this fable of fame offers a read as agreeable as the first whiffs of autumn air. Agent, Alan Nevins. National advertising. (Nov. 13)

Forecast:Blurbs from Steve Martin and Dennis Miller—plus appearances in seven cities and a "driving tour" through southern California—will help land this on bestseller lists.

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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