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Truth in Advertising: A Novel

Truth in Advertising: A Novel

Written by John Kenney

Narrated by Robert Petkoff


Truth in Advertising: A Novel

Written by John Kenney

Narrated by Robert Petkoff

ratings:
4/5 (10 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Jan 22, 2013
ISBN:
9781442358515
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

A wickedly funny, honest, and poignant debut novel in the spirit of Then We Came to the End and This Is Where I Leave You about the absurdity of corporate life, the complications of love, and the meaning of family.

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 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 re-evaluate 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.

A Simon & Schuster audio production.

Released:
Jan 22, 2013
ISBN:
9781442358515
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

John Kenney has worked as a copywriter in New York City for seventeen years. He has also been a contributor to The New Yorker magazine since 1999. Some of his work appears in a collection of The New Yorker’s humor writing, Disquiet, Please! He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit ByJohnKenney.com.


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Reviews

What people think about Truth in Advertising

3.8
10 ratings / 10 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Fin Dolan is an advertising copywriter in a NY agency. He is closing in on 40 and has recently called off his wedding. He feels his life is empty.Raised in a family with an angry father who after beating his gay son & being nearly killed by his oldest son, abandons his family. Shortly after, his mother kills herself. The secret Fin carries around is he saw her do it. In fact he was the first on the scene of the intentional car accident. He finds himself attracted to his co-worker, Phoebe but he can tell her how he feels even though all his friends can see it. When his father dies, he promises to deliver his ashes to the spot in the Pacific where his father was when the war ended.Kenney gives us a great deal of information about working in the advertising business but we must sort out the information from the satire and humour. Very fuuny.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed this book mainly because of the juxta position of life and advertising/consumerism
  • (3/5)
    This is one of those book I would not have picked up on my own. I read it for the book discussion group I lead at my library. For a book discussion I think it will work out well. There are a lot of topics to discuss.A solid 3 stars. A lot of humor keeps the story moving along which makes for an enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    This is the first book to make me cry in a long time. It was funny, romantic and would make a great movie. In some ways it was predictable but I didn't care - it was a great, fun diversion.
  • (5/5)
    I almost gave up on this novel in the early pages because the opening didn’t feel very novelistic. There was a frame of a dramatized scene – the shooting of a TV commercial, but very little was dramatized and the early pages were mostly filled with the 1st person narrator offering cynical, albeit very funny, views of the advertising world in a direct monologue to the reader. Then the narrator presented all the key characters in his world in the form of a bulleted list – must like the opening pages of a play presented in book, when all the character’s names are listed with brief descriptors of each. The character summaries are witty and observant, but I was still desperately waiting for a dramatized scene. My qualms disappeared, though, after those pages. The novel turns into a great, fully dramatized story about a man unraveling for a bit because his job seems meaningless and his long-estranged father is near death. We are giving a moving, and often tragic, portrait of why his family is so fractured. His father left him and his three siblings when they were still at tender ages, and his mother killed herself shortly after her husband walked out. This may sound grim, but the author provides enough comic relief in the descriptions of his siblings’ awkward interactions to prevent the novel from becoming too maudlin. And with a heavy dose of cleverness and inventiveness, he milks the adverting agency world for every last drop of satire that can be found in it.

    He fully captures the over-the-top pretentiousness and absurd silliness of spending millions of dollars to pitch products with little real value to the world – like non-toxic disposable diapers that are both toxic and non-disposable. I don’t work for an advertising agency, but I work on the client side and have sat in on the process of shooting commercials in Hollywood and every detail of the process is accurately portrayed. The characters seem spot on – including the tough as nails producer who keeps everything running smoothly and the vain director who had a once glorious career but has now fallen on hard times, while still clinging to all his vanity and pomposity. As is the case with the novels of Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby, whom this writer is being compared, our protagonist has a love interest – a kindhearted woman, who may be willing to devote herself to him if he can first accomplish that difficult task of maturing and growing up. Like Tropper and Hornby, Kenney does a very good job of delivering a lot of comic moments while showing the struggles a man must go through to make sense of the challenges and setbacks like has thrown his way. The novel may not reach the lofty heights of what I consider the two greatest ad agency novels – Glenn Savan’s The White Palace and Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End -- but it’s a pretty good novel in its own right. If you like this one, try another recent novel that tells a similar story of a man struggling with a difficult father and troubles in his romantic life – the wonderful Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman.
  • (2/5)
    *I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.*

    I really wanted to like this book but overall it was just a mess. I really don't even know where to start. I guess with the narrator calling himself "Gary" in the beginning, which had me rolling my eyes. It improved for a while after that, despite the author's inclusion of his character sketches for a bunch of characters I cared nothing about. There were a few touching moments and a few laugh-out-loud funny moments, but it felt like it was trying way too hard to be clever. I was supposed to think these people were clever and smart yet they were really no more interesting than people I know in real life. To make things worse, I was distracted by some tense issues that made me think the book could have benefited greatly from an editor who not only took care of that but made the author kill his darlings (lines like, "I feel like we should make out").
  • (4/5)
    Although most people would tell you that they are too smart to be fooled by advertising, the truth is that it works - and that it works on even those who claim otherwise. But, despite its effectiveness, we still like to laugh at the whole advertising industry and those who spend their lives “lying” to the rest of us about products we can easily live without. John Kenney’s debut novel, Truth in Advertising, gives readers a chance to do exactly that. Truth in Advertising, however, is a novel with a serious message. That the message is cloaked in dark, often laugh-out-loud, humor is just a bonus. Whether he realizes it or not, Finbar Dolan is caught up in his own version of a mid-life crisis. He is about to turn 40, has just backed out of his impending wedding, does not have to use all the fingers of one hand to count his friends, and feels like he is pretty much just wasting his life. He has carved out a mediocre career for himself at a Madison Avenue ad agency but no longer really believes in what he does. Then, Fin and his three siblings, none of whom he even speaks to anymore, must decide how to handle the impending death of their long estranged father. When he learns that none of them intend to see their father before he dies, Fin realizes he is on his own.Truth in Advertising is a story about second chances – as opposed to “second acts.” Fin Dunbar will come to believe that, “Every day we get a fresh chance to live the way we want.” He learns, the hard way, that the choice is his, but that realization is a long way from where he bottoms out:“It will change. All of it. Imperceptibly at first. Then irrevocably. Thirty comes. Thirty-five surprises you. The prospect of forty stuns you. Once the money was a wonderful surprise. Now it is not enough. A restlessness creeps in. A wanting of something you cannot quite put your finger on. Stories of others people’s lives fascinate you. The idea of many things – a career change, a sabbatical, graduate school, a tattoo – seems interesting but you never do any of them.”Whether you call it a “second chance” or a “second act,” Fin Dunbar is finally ready to make more of the second half of his life than he made of its first. If it is really possible for a person to come-of-age at 40 (you decide), John Kenney has written one of the funniest coming of age novels that I have read in a while. But, call it what you will, Truth in Advertising is an admirable debut novel.Rated at: 4.0
  • (4/5)
    This is the first book that I have read with the advertising business as the backdrop for the action. The main character is part of a team that must develop a commercial for a new non toxic, non polluting biodegradable diaper to be shown during the super bowl. But then the plot veers into his terrible relationship with his siblings and his father who is dying. He also begins to question what he has accomplished in his life. Both of these plots are rectified in the end - one to my satisfaction and one not. The book is well written - but the ending - I would have liked to see it a little different. But, read it - don't throw the baby out with the "bath water" of the diaper in this case.
  • (4/5)
    Hilarious! Some elements are predictable but there are surprises and the dialogue is the snappiest! Validly blurbed by a few of my favorite authors (Jami Attenberg, Andy Borowitz, William Landay).The book centers around an ad campaign for diapers:"On January 27th, Snugglies will introduce Planet Enders. A possibly toxic biohazard that will clog toilets and destroy the sea. And you'll see how 2010 could possibly be Armageddon."
  • (3/5)
    Fin is lost. He doesn't speak to his family. He hates his job (but loves the prestige of it, even if it is advertising diapers). He doesn't even know he's in love with his assistant. In the few days before Christmas, his boss gives him an impossible task: make a Super Bowl ad in under 6 weeks.The first bit is a huge dump of information and I almost gave up on the novel. But once it starts going, you really start to like Fin and his friends.Another point I must bring up is that often Fin has these flashbacks and JD from Scrubs' like inner monologues that are long you almost forget what is occurring in the present.I was given an advance copy of this novel by the publisher.