cover image The Big Hype

The Big Hype

Avery Corman. Simon & Schuster, $18.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-69297-1

The humorous spark flickers wanly in this creaky satire of hype in the book publishing industry. Emmy-winning TV scriptwriter Paul Brock writes a novel that he deserving recognition and is convinced he must promote himself, as a celebrity, in order to make it a bestseller. Financed by his old Borscht Belt pal, brash show-biz entrepreneur Mel Steiner, he becomes a musical star by singing comic songs about middle-class life, such as ``Children's Shoes Blues'' and ``Me and My Car.'' Brock makes a movie and wows fans at New York's Radio City Music Hall. His marriage suffers as he is swallowed up in glitz. Corman ( Kramer vs. Kramer ) stingingly parodies the Hollywoodization of publishing, its bloated star system, its puffery and the news media's opinion-shaping apparatus. But his points are obvious, the story's premise is strained and the joke wears thin. Walk-ons by a throng of real-life figures--including Saul Bellow, Stephen King, James Michener, Erma Bombeck and Bruce Springsteen--are exploitative and predictable. (July)