cover image Arts & Entertainments

Arts & Entertainments

Christopher Beha. Ecco, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-232246-3

Unsuccessful New York actor "Handsome" Eddie Hartley, now a drama teacher, and his wife, Susan, are caught in financial turmoil in their attempt to have a baby. Doctor visits pile up, and to make some extra cash, Eddie secretly sells an old sex tape, featuring a former flame, the now famous Martha Martin. But Eddie's quiet life explodes after the tape is quickly traced back to him. In the swirl of sudden media interest, Susan, feeling betrayed and now pregnant with triplets, throws her husband out and uses the newfound attention to become the star of her own well-received reality television series. And as Eddie tries to win his wife back from the sidelines, he also claws into the limelight: staging a fling with a 19-year-old, signing his life away to a smarmy reality TV producer, and living his life in front of a camera. The second novel from Beha (What Happened to Sophie Wilder) is filled with unpleasant, shallow characters, and though affability isn't required for narrative success, the author never lands enough imperative moments to craft a remarkable story. While occasionally funny, Eddie's reality TV exploits often translate as dated, a behind-the-scenes expose of an entertainment trend already long in the tooth, and as he stumbles through the stardom that eluded him for so long, the satire flounders. (July)