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Finbar Dolan is lost and lonely. Except he doesn’t know it. Despite escaping his blue-collar Boston upbringing to carve out a mildly successful career at a Madison Avenue ad agency, he’s a bit of a mess and closing in on 40. He’s recently called off a wedding. Now, a few days before Christmas, he’s forced to cancel a long-postponed vacation in order to write, produce, and edit a Superbowl commercial for his diaper account in record time.
Fortunately, it gets worse. He learns that his long-estranged and once-abusive father has fallen ill. And that neither of his brothers or his sister intend to visit. It’s a wake-up call for Fin to reevaluate the choices he’s made, admit that he’s falling for his co-worker Phoebe, question the importance of diapers in his life, and finally tell the truth about his life and his past.
First-time novelist John Kenney, a regular New Yorker contributor, mines his own advertising background to weave spot-on, compelling insider detail into a hilarious, insightful, at times sardonic, and ultimately moving debut.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By phil b on 01-31-13
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One advantage of audiobooks is that you can distribute your attention among things other than the materiel. Commute, laundry, walking the dog, making a sandwich, all possible while simultaneously listening to a book. Reading however, means sitting in a chair with your complete attention on the book. As a consequence, my experience is that the comprehension and retention of the audiobook material is usually a fraction of that of a book book.While listening to TRUTH IN ADVERTISING it soon becomes obvious that this is a story to be savored, deserving of your full attention. The writing and the narration is so good that I found myself continually rewinding and replaying passages. I’ll leave a summation of the plot to others. I’ll simply say that the experience is funny, at times tragic, always for me, deeply affecting. Special mention of the narration by Robert Petkoff: it is superb. He uses accents and dramatic reading to great effect. You will enjoy this audiobook while sitting in your favorite chair, not while doing the dishes.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
By Pamela Harvey on 01-26-13
A Riotous, Rollicking Rollercoaster!
This is "dysfunction noir", in the tradition of Tropper and Franzen, but with many more hilarious and comedic moments. Having spent many years in a profession similar to that of Finbar Dolan, the protagonist, I could completely relate to the characters in the ad agency and to their conflicts that come from the nature of the parts they must play. Basically this particular plot arc centers on the now-trite adage that the client is always right, and it doesn't matter how creatively you solve an issue, and how many branded celebrities you bring in to a campaign if the client does not relate. Fin both dislikes his job, or at least he doesn't love it, and does not feel "fulfilled" by it, but this is post-2008 financial crisis and he realizes it's a job he's been lucky enough to keep; the concept of fulfillment has been banished to job-market purgatory.
Fin's abusive childhood and his view of the familial nightmare that growing up in the Dolan family play into the present story to a large extent, without any need to hit the reader upside the head with the horrendous deviations from happy family life. There are glimpses into his past, and with those come a few of the reasons why the four siblings have become so estranged. However, the story, like life, is not without the occasional redemptive moment.
The cynical view of being creative on demand is fertile ground for humor, irony, and just plain laugh-out-loud episodes. How many times have I, or anyone else in that judgy, gossipy, whispery, micro-managed, performance-focused environment known as the office wanted to say to some co-worker or underling, or even over-ling, "I don't like your name, so from now on I'm calling you Barbara"?
Which all adds up to an unputdownable story with hilarious in-the-moment scenes from a life, traumatized from birth, channeled into some degree of success, both commercial and personal, seen through the cynical lens of Finbar Dolan.
The narration is perfect, as is the jacket cover - an "homage" to the proprietary Coca Cola font.
5 stars all on all counts.
44 of 49 people found this review helpful