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John Kenney

Truth in Advertising

John Kenney Truth In Advertising
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Main description:

“A quick-witted, wry sendup of the advertising industry and corporate culture…A clear-eyed, sympathetic story about complex family ties and the possibility of healing” (The Washington Post).

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 forty. He’s recently called off his 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 his brothers nor his sister intend to visit. It’s a wake-up call for Fin to re-evaluate the choices he’s made, admit that he’s falling for his coworker Phoebe, question the importance of diapers in his life, and finally tell the truth about his life and his past.

In the spirit of Then We Came to the End and This Is Where I Leave You, novelist John Kenney, a regular New Yorker contributor, mines his own advertising background to creating this moving debut, nothing short of “a masterful blend of wit and seriousness, stunning in its honesty” (Booklist, starred review).

Review quote:

"A masterful blend of wit and seriousness, stunning in its honesty. A novel sure to appeal to fans of Nick Hornby."

Review quote:

"A snortingly funny debut ... Although Nick Hornby is the obvious reference — humor and heartbreak of ordinary life — this wonderful book is more J. Alfred Prufrock."

Review quote:

"Here's a smart one. . . . Lovers of the city will find much to love in this relatable, redemptive, and sometimes very funny story."

Review quote:

"Hilarious. . . . Kenney mixes inside advertising jokes with the broad comedy necessary to keep those in the real world laughing."

Review quote:

"It will make you laugh out loud at times and it will also touch you deeply. . . . This is the sort of book where you really care about the characters. . . . You will not be disappointed in Truth in Advertising. The plot is highly entertaining, but it is the joy of getting to know such a realistic, likeable, believable character as Finbar Dolan that makes this novel such a treat. Fin is the sort of guy you will enjoy spending time with.”

Review quote:

"Kenney, who’s worked as a copywriter for 17 years, mines this rich territory for satire. . . . Fin’s struggle to understand his dad brings a layer of emotional complexity to the tale. . . . Kenney’s novel wrestles with deep questions: What makes a good man? What makes a good life? What should one’s contribution to the world be?"

Review quote:

"New York-based Kenney . . . knows of what he speaks. He is particularly brilliant at clashing Fin’s jadedness with the unglamorous products he’s forced to pitch. . . . [A] delightfully caustic piece of satire."

Review quote:

"We're sold on Kenney's trenchant, quick-witted debut."

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"What really amazed me was the unexpected depth and subtleness of the rest of the book, which showcases writing that, in terms of talent, puts Kenney in a league with the best of American writers of his generation."

Review quote:

"With wry humor, always on point, Kenney guides us through the maze of work, family, love (elusive) and friendship (a lifesaver). This is an outstanding debut."

Review quote:

"With wry wit, excellent pacing, and pitch-perfect, often hilarious, dialogue, Kenney has created something remarkable: a surprisingly funny novel about an adult American ma
“You'd expect that a man who writes humor pieces for the New Yorker would be funny – and he is. John Kenney, who also worked as an advertising copywriter, knows that world and skewers it mercilessly and hilariously in his debut novel. . . . It would also be safe to say that amazing things will most likely be happening in John Kenney's literary career right now. Truthfully.”

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