Mark Haskell Smith. Grove/Black Cat, $14 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2201-8
A goofy streak leavens Smith’s fifth novel, an overly broad satire that takes potshots at reality TV, the Internet, and the publishing industry. Former beach volleyball player Sepp Gregory, who became a household name by winning the steamy hidden-camera show Sex Crib, is famous for his abs and his romance with fellow contestant Roxy Sandoval. Now his adoring public swarms to meet him on the book tour for his novel, Totally Reality, while his ghostwriter, Curtis Berman, sulks in hipster obscurity in Brooklyn. The novel’s critical and commercial success enrages Curtis as well as blogger Harriet Post, who decides to confront Sepp on his tour and expose him as a literary fraud. But Sepp has bigger problems: his once-legendary libido still hasn’t recovered from his breakup with Roxy, and now she plans to write her own tell-all about their split. When the exes collide at the Playboy Club with Harriet and Curtis in tow, Sepp realizes he has to break free. Smith overplays his hand early with characters drawn to extremes (one is described as having an “Easy Bake Oven head”) and later forced to meet in the vague middle, but he packs his paragraphs with cleverness, mapping out a soapy, exciting plot. When Sepp goes off course, his unpredictable path gets seamy but leaves a glimmer of hope for a self-obsessed society—at least for one willing to laugh at itself. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 12/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
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