Show Up, Look Good

Mark Wisniewski. Gival (www.givalpress.com), $20 (224p) ISBN 978-1-928589-60-0
An endearing and sometimes cleverly written heroine fumbles through this haphazardly plotted new novel from Wisniewski (Confessions of a Polish Used Car Salesman). When she is dumped by her fiancé, Michelle leaves her life in Kankakee, Ill., and runs off to New York City. Existing is enough for Michelle, who can barely be bothered to think about a job. After surviving a series of ill-advised roommates (an elderly Norwegian woman, a pretentious M.F.A. student, and a swinging couple) and hatching schemes like scalping complimentary David Letterman tickets, Michelle moves to a cheap, decrepit apartment in Queens. While living on her own for the first time in her 30s, she toys with becoming an artist and begins to come to terms with her mother's death. Although amusing, Michelle's lack of ambition does not receive enough attention. The murder story line mentioned on page one does not reappear until the novel's final 25 pages, where it feels like a feeble attempt to tack on narrative weight and resolution. Although Michelle's sassy voice presents the beginnings of an interesting character sketch, this novel lacks the depth and drama to be judged a success. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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