Tod Harrison Williams, Author . Simon & Schuster $14 (323p) ISBN 978-1-4165-3821-9

Jay Hauser, the Dartmouth freshman narrator of film director/writer Williams’s uneven debut, has a mean streak, a salesman’s heart and a case full of knives to hawk to his family and friends. As summer break approaches, Jay is offered a spot on the varsity football team and tapped for the most exclusive fraternity on campus, but he can’t get his mind off of his crush, Isabelle, and her accusation that he is not charming enough to be her boyfriend. (Never mind that Isabelle is less hot than hometown girlfriend Brooke, a silicone-breasted baby-talker.) Isabelle’s insult gets under Jay’s skin, and to prove his charisma he takes a summer job selling expensive sets of Bladeworks knives. Jay develops a selling formula and becomes the top seller in the country. Setting his sights on becoming the best salesman internationally, a hard-drinking Jay, blessed with a natural talent for sales and bereft of ethical sense, gets sucked into a vortex of pride and rage against his parents, friends and customers. Though somewhat enriched by its exploration of knife selling—a peculiarly popular occupation among college students—the novel leans heavily on casual cruelty and facile frat-boy antics. The story moves briskly, though not much happens below the surface. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-4666-5
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