The Truth In Advertising by John Kenney(5 out of 5)
I haven’t said this in a while, but I may have found a book that rivals Domestic Violets. It’s this book- The truth In Advertising. I haven’t laughed this hard in a while reading a book, and the characters and plot are realistic, self-depracating, sarcastically humorous, and heartwarming. The last time I got this excited over a book was Domestic Violets(GO READ IT, if you haven’t!). This is 2013’s entry, unless it’s outdone.
Fin Dolan has a lot of issues. Not more than, say, your average man going through a mid-life crisis. He’s recently called off his wedding(wondering why he even proposed to begin with). He’s due to go on a long-overdue vacation, but is told he has to blow off Christmas and his vacation to deal with an irascible diaper account(the part about Gwenyth Paltrow and the black baby are hilarious). He gets a phone call from his distant older brother guilting him into going to sit by his dying father’s bedside. He’s more than probably in love with his young assistant Phoebe. The father card plays a huge part in everything. Fin has more than a fair amount of grief over calling off his wedding and hurting his ex, a process that is fully explained in a simultaneously funny and heartbreaking turn of events. His father, abusive to him and his family when he was younger, is not coming back from this, and after he passes, he has to contend with all the unsaid things, his anger at his siblings for throwing all of the responsibility on him saying goodbye, and then- in a total twist- the will is read and new events come to life. Namely, that Fin’s mother, who they thought had died in a car accident, killed herself when her marriage to Fin’s father ended(because he cheated). It sounds heavy, parts of it are heavy, but you cannot put it down. You also find yourself cheering for him to overcome all of this and- be happy. Fin is such a sympathethic, realistic character- you feel as if you not only know him personally from the writing, but that you likely do know several people like him.
Advertising satire is not something that would normally be high on my list of novel ideas, but oh boy, does Kenney do a great job painting this, the driven, neurotic nutballs who work in the field, and those who are clients( I will never ever be able to erase the vision of Lady Gaga taking Sally Struther’s place as the person asking you to donate money for children in third world countries. Highly disturbing- but hilarious!). I can’t say more than to read this pop-culture soaked ride through human nature, grieving, second chances at love, and even more importantly- the oddness that is the advertising industry.