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What We’re Reading: Truth in Advertising

Post by Shauna Griffin
Posted March 18, 2014 in NoveList Bookshelf

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Truth in Advertising

by John Kenney

What is it about?

In short, Truth in Advertising is a coming-of-age for a man well past the “coming of age” age; in the novel, he grapples with his relationships with members of his family (all dead or estranged in the wake of trauma), his career in advertising, and his romantic relationships (or lack thereof). His disenchantment with what was once an exciting career in advertising makes for an informative and very funny book – he’s currently on assignment with a diaper company with an end goal of making a Super Bowl ad. Let’s just say, it’s not pretty – but it IS funny. It’s also a discourse on truth, whether in advertising or with oneself, and happiness.

Why I like it:

One of the reviews I read suggested that if you didn’t like the first chapter, you weren’t going to like the rest of the book. I loved the first chapter for its brilliant set-up, but I suppose it’s not for everyone. The main character, Fin, doesn’t really hide his flaws; he is, in fact, very aware of them and how he’s hurt people in the past. He just doesn’t know how to go about changing. I liked both his internal thought process, the clever banter with the other characters, and Fin’s rather cynical outlook on advertising (I’m no fan myself, but he made the whole process of trying to get people to buy more and more stuff FUNNY. It was really pretty fascinating, if also depressing if you think too much about it.). Like so many books I have enjoyed, it’s not the most realistic of settings – but it is heartfelt.

Interesting tidbit: 

John Kenney worked in advertising and also wrote humor pieces for the New Yorker and other outlets before quitting and moving to France to write his first novel. That was in 2004. It was never published.

"I'd recommend this book to…"

Anyone who likes “lad lit,” a la Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby, or observational humor. Also, readers who enjoyed the movie Office Space, for its take on the, ahem, elusive nature of career satisfaction.

Memorable quote:

Honestly, there are just too many! Read Truth in Advertising for yourself and you'll see what I mean. 

Recommended by Shauna Griffin, NextReads/ADEPT Supervisor at NoveList.