Truth in Advertising (Hardcover)

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    This is the author's debut novel, and it is apparent from the first chapter that Kenney has used his extensive experience as a copy writer well.  As a contributor to The New Yorker, readers might be familiar with some of his stories in the humor collection Disquiet, Please. 
    The book opens with the main character, Fin Dolan, on a set where his national diaper account is being filmed.  The laugh-out-loud moments are numerous - a mix-up in casting the baby, temperamental clients, quirky co-workers, and in this scenario, a schedule-challenged VIP starring in the commercial.  The subject of diapers alone provides unlimited humor, some highbrow and some a bit raunchy. 
    But this book is much more than just a behind-the-scenes look at the advertising business.  Fin's estranged father is dying.  Fin - in his late thirties - is the youngest of four and their abusive father left the family when Fin was twelve.   None of his siblings are willing to participate in what turns out to be an anticlimactic event - his father's death - and the subsequent arrangements that have to be made.  Fin has had relationship and other detachment issues most of his life, but doesn't really know that or begin to work through them until he deals with his father's death and the things he learns about his father's life. 
    Unlike so many new cable series and films where each member of the cast is brilliant and the over-the-top witty dialogue sounds the same (spoken at the speed of lightening), John Kenney's characters are diverse, multi-dimensional and so believably true.  The writing is fast, smart, modern, funny and poignant.  One of my favorites reads this year.  


— Karen McCue

January 2013 Indie Next List

“This funny first novel is an accomplished mix of snark and pathos. Finbar Dolan is nearly 40 and has little to show for it. He is ambivalent about his Madison Avenue advertising job, has a failed engagement behind him, and is emotionally distant from his fragmented and dysfunctional family. What he does have, however, are loyal friends, a good heart, and a razor-sharp wit. This book will not only have you laughing out loud but will also leave you keenly sympathetic to Fin's plight. It is funny and moving and reminiscent of the works of Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby with a little Mad Men thrown in.”
— tova beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI


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.

"F. Scott Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in American lives. I have no idea what that means but I believe that in quoting him I appear far more intelligent than I am. I don't know about second acts, but I do think we get second chances, fifth chances, eighteenth chances. Every day we get a fresh chance to live the way we want."

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 Super Bowl commercial for his diaper account in record time.

Fortunately, it gets worse. Fin 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 coworker Phoebe, question the importance of diapers in his life, and finally tell the truth about his past.

Truth in Advertising is debut novelist John Kenney's wickedly funny, honest, at times sardonic, and ultimately moving story about the absurdity of corporate life, the complications of love, and the meaning of family.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781451675542
ISBN-10: 1451675542
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publication Date: January 22nd, 2013
Pages: 308
Language: English

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