Plus One by Christopher Noxon (5 out of 5)
This one was a no-brainer. I had read about this book, I believe, on Goodreads. Or it may have been written up elsewhere. I have so many damn books on all sides of me that it’s a damned miracle I don’t live in an igloo made up of books (igooks? Would be hell in Chicago weather, elements here are not kind). We ordered it in and after finishing it last night (this morning; 5am and too much on my mind), I went to work, wrote a review, and sold a copy. It’s that easy. First of all, you have to read. Thankfully, some of my bookstore employees still do that. Thankfully, I still read enough that I get at least one new recommend a week that I can say qualifies it as “We Recommend” status. This one was mine for the week. What a hilarious, smart, acutely observed look at those who live with wives who are the breadwinners and main contributor to family finances. The “plus one” is the husband, stay at home dad, stay at home housekeeper, the silent force that holds that busy overachiever up. In the case of Noxon’s novel, this is a hilarious undertaking. It’s also a fun book to read. There may be a few men whose egos cannot take this book; however, I’m sure those men will still be laughing and wiping their eyes in private, well, because it’s funny. And you should read it, dammit.
Alex Sherman-Zicklin (note the hyphenated name. More on that later.) is a marketing exec whose wife has been hammering away at scripts and screenplays for a multitude of years, to no real great success. Try #14 and Figgy (yes, Figgy. I kept dreaming of a nightmarish pudding every time I ran into the name in the book. Enough of the figgy pudding, Noxon. I would not be surprised if that was intentional) finally gets her script picked up, a pilot made, it’s a smash, and she wins an Emmy. That’s where the book starts out- at the Emmy Awards. Figgy gets sucked into the vacuum of excitement (sarcasm, folks) that is the Hollywood machine, and Alex quits his job to be the full time “domestic first responder” (true terminology) and caretaker of their house and newfound exciting, Hollywood lifestyle. He becomes friends with a group of “Plus Ones” (meeting them first at the Emmy Awards when the novel starts out), dudes who, like himself, are shadowed by their wives in terms of career, money, and widespread recognition. Can Alex figure out how to balance the scales? Can he manage to do it without sacrificing his marriage to Figgy, as well as more of his self-esteem than has already been dissipated? Can he encourage the other Plus Ones to get a handle on things and rise above? Can this be done without invoking Ryan Seacrest in any way, shape, or form in this novel? Can it be done without making the reader bust a gut laughing at their antics? It’s like the mafia for Perez Hilton worshipping husband co-managers. More importantly, the book goes by fast, there are some situations that are simply too funny for me to describe without giving away the funnies laughs, the font is fantastic, and Noxon has chosen to address and take on the cause of those who are in this unenviable position of swallowing their testosterone-fueled pride to let their wives pay most of the bills, get the spotlight on them, while they sit in the corner holding the Coach bags and praying their wife remembers to thank them in the acceptance speech (Figgy strikes again). He has done it in superb and singular fashion, without having too much rancor invading the space he chooses to take up the cause of the “Plus Ones”. The best part of this? I can happily report that Noxon is married to a successful TV writer/producer and he’s the one who does the chauffeuring for their kids. So this man KNOWS. And you can tell by the book. By the way, the book is awesome, get your butt out and get a copy. And read it. And recommend it!