REVIEW: “A Fool Among Fools” by John Terracuso
It’s 1986. Ronald Reagan is in the White House, Molly Ringwald is on the cover of Time and 29-year-old Michael Gregoretti is a struggling, underpaid copywriter at a big New York ad agency. He’d rather be writing plays; instead, he’s writing awful commercials for a moisturizer formulated to conquer that dire, life-threatening condition: handruff.
Michael reluctantly accepts an assignment on a brand-new (and very secret) product – an aerosol butter – hoping it will lead to the kind of work that will land him a better job at another agency. But there’s a catch: Working on this new account will also mean working for the rigid, compulsive and quite possibly insane Gwen Hammond, who thinks that Michael, with his off-the-wall ideas and unconventional campaigns, is just too much of a rebel to work with such a conservative client.
To further complicate life, Michael meets and falls for Craig Connolly, an absolute dreamboat from the South with a voice like FM radio and a face to match. Craig claims he’d like to be in a relationship and Michael wants to believe it. The problem is, Craig is already married – to his job.
Michael survives it all with the help of his two best friends: Irene Lucca, a witty book editor with a flair for vintage clothing and an eye for the art director Michael works with, and Anthony DeLorenzo, Michael’s wise (and wisecracking) roommate and staunchest supporter.
By the time A Fool Among Fools ends, Michael has battled stuffy clients and stifling supervisors, written and produced what just might be the worst commercials in the history of advertising, found and lost love, and managed to keep himself – and the reader – laughing along the way.
This book is really hard for me to review because a)I didn’t like it and b) it’s written very well.
Here’s why I read up until 79% and couldn’t bring myself to cross the finish line:
A Fool Among Fools is primarily about Michael Gregoretti’s never ending contemp for his job and supervisor, Gwen.
Despite feeling mildly sorry for poor, suffering Michael, I didn’t care enough about his character to become truly vested in his struggle. His ongoing inability to move forward was excruciating. Also, nearly everything feels miserable. The entire work process (which is described in minute detail) was a painful struggle to both read and imagine. I understood that Gwen was a crazed lunatic who made everyone’s lives miserable, but I just didn’t care enough to continue reading. I hope there was some resolution/explanation to her behaviour by the end of the story for those people who read the story to the end.
There are lots of lines which had me cackling like a loon. Here’s one small example:
“I always thought I wore being gay like a red picture hat, but some people need to be told. Irene practically had to be clubbed.”
There are tons of references to people, movies, television, etc that I have no clue about. Now, I’m your average middle aged woman who’s grown up in the Western world, but if I had to stop and Google each name or reference of pop culture to understand what the author was trying to express: I would have finished the book in 2017. No, thank you.
A character’s name is spelled two different ways in one paragrah. Is it Maxine, or Maxene?
Michael’s involvement with Craig was cold and distant. If that was the intent, then it was a job well done. Otherwise: zzzzz.
If we put the negative points aside, it really is a well written book. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by Terrascuso because I enjoyed his writing and wit – but in this instance, the subject matter and approach left a lot to be desired.
RATING: DNF / MNY
Title: A Fool Among Fools
Author: John Terrascuso
Publication Date: May 19th, 2013