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Fake Liar Cheat Paperback – July 1, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Short fiction writer Goldberg's smarmy, self-congratulatory debut novel breaks little new ground in its quest to debunk shallow American notions of celebrity, materialism and self-fulfillment. His protagonist, Lonnie Milton, is the quintessential armchair nihilist. A 26-year-old denizen of Los Angeles, he's a fashionably cynical young man with a cushy sinecure of a job (he interviews and places temp workers), and no discernible ambition. When he meets the enigmatic and beautiful Claire Gooden, Lonnie finds himself helplessly smitten. Soon, he joins Claire in her favorite activity: dining at L.A.'s most fashionable restaurants and skipping out on the tab. One wouldn't think that this kind of juvenile behavior would instill the masses with revolutionary fervor, but in Goldberg's parodic universe, that's precisely what it does. Legions of poor, disenfranchised fools spring up, calling themselves "Lonnie's Army" and devoting themselves to that worthiest of causes, stealing food from posh eateries. In the midst of this massive social upheaval, Lonnie manages to get ditched by Claire, framed for the murder of a wealthy Middle Eastern tycoon, and pursued by L.A.'s infamous boys in blue. What follows is, more or less, a primer in puerile Gen-X satire 101, as filtered through a Bret Easton Ellis-like, brand-name-dropping sensibility. Goldberg's characters are cardboard and unsympathetic, his prose hollowly minimalist. Even worse, some of his plot devices seem to have wandered in from Chuck Palahniuk's superior Fight Club; Goldberg goes so far as to allow Lonnie's intonation of anti-consumerist phrasesD"Nike, the all-knowing Nike, the all-fearing, all-loving, all-the-clothes-I'll-ever-need Nike, tells me Just Do It"Decho the rhetorical style of Palahniuk's own priceless creation, Tyler Durden. This kind of derivative plotting and speechifying could surely have sunk Fair Liar Cheat; surely, that is, but for the fact that withered humor and sophomoric attempts at social relevancy have already done the job. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Entertaining, movie-thin comedy not out to change your life, only to offer an amusing read, which it does with high success.Like Val, who hires and fires for the Cosmodemonic telegraph company in Tropic of Capricorn, Lonnie Milton, 25, is a rising supervisor at L.A.'s Staff Genius, a company that releases temps as if at random into the mazes of La-La-Land. Lonnie's aging supervisor, Julie, has been taking lots of sick leave and entrusting the company to Lonnie and his lackadaisical drinking buddy Charlie--though how they keep their sales numbers up is a mystery. One night Lonnie meets drop-dead gorgeous Claire Goodens (née Hilary Peck), who introduces Lonnie to the highest high life in L.A., all of it stolen. At trendy Intermezzo, they run up a dinner bill of $670 plus tip, then stiff the waiter and blithely take off in a waiting cab. The waiter, fired for not having enough money to repay the restaurant, turns up at Staff Genius, looking for a job from Lonnie. When Lonnie sends Claire out to fill a temp job, she semi-seduces the boss; Lonnie blackmails him (splitting with Claire the $1,500 down payment); and the boss leaps from his office window. These shenanigans, and his later identification as a restaurant terrorist, lead Lonnie to get violently evicted from his apartment, to come near death after an overdose of painkillers on top of alcohol, to lose his own job, to become a murder suspect, and to turn into the culture-hero darling of TV news.The killer climax mixes Steinbeck's Tell me about the rabbits, George with Thelma and Louise's high-flying electricity. A perfect trade paperback with all the sleaze and glamour of the old paperbacks of 50 years ago. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: MTV Books; F First Edition edition (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743400569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743400565
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,611,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tod Goldberg is the author of several books of fiction, including the novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat and the popular Burn Notice series, as well as two collections of short stories, Simplify and Other Resort Cities. His essays, nonfiction, and journalism have appeared widely, including, most recently, in Best American Essays 2013. His latest novel, Gangsterland, will be released in fall 2014 from Counterpoint. Tod Goldberg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College and lives in Indio, CA where he directs the Low Residency MFA program in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Fake Liar Cheat is a wild ride. Tod Goldberg knows his Hollywood and he knows his dead-end jobs and he knows bad, bad, women. Put it all together and you've got one of the funniest books of the year. By far the best MTV title I've read because it isn't filled with GenX angst...instead its filled with actual angst. Besides, any book that contains a line dissing The Real World and is still put out by MTV deserves some measure of credit. A major work by a big time player in the next century of fiction.
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By A Customer on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hot damn! Anyone who likes the classic noir writers across the decades will eat up the first-novel pageburner "Fake Liar Cheat" by Tod Goldberg, one of a new series of Pocketbooks/MTV collaborations. The book begins with a chance encounter by temp-employment recruiter and wage-slave Lonnie Milton with a woman at one of those coffee-shop megabookstores -- and is suddenly shot out of the cannon with a blazing burst of wierdness reminsicient of Charles Willeford and Jim Thompson (combined!). What I thought was probably a ho-hum Hollywood nothing book started increasingly rearing up as a real thriller, with a well-worked plot, great characterization, pacing, and dialogue. (Elmore Leonard fans go 'head!) I read the 162 pages in one sitting. The other authors I mentioned are not intended as a comparison or implication of imitation, but if you like those tough guys, you will love this one! To even mention anything about the plot of this book would spoil it for you -- just go get the blessed thing and read it! It's great movie material, already sold, according to another review on this site -- I just hope they stay faithful to the book, including the ending, which in fine form does not compromise itself commercially. It made me want to check out the other books in Pocketbooks/MTV series. Pocketbooks has always been on the cutting edge of paperbacks and Goldberg is worthy of the imprimatur. Hope Goldberg can keep up this momentum in his career -- it could be the start of a beautiful friendship for a lot of readers.
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Format: Paperback
This book was quite different from what I typically read. In fact, this book seems different from anything I've read before. It raises questions of what any of us would do if put in certain situations - if caught up in a world where we had only dreamed of existing.

Lonnie Milton could have been anybody. It's quite interesting to see how easily he makes himself fit in with all of L.A.'s glitz and glamour. With Claire at his side, he could've been anything he wanted. But when Claire's fantasy world upends itself, Lonnie is left struggling with who he is - trying to find his real self in such a deceptive world.

Some parts of this book aren't always clear on what's actually happening - whether it's going on in Lonnie's head or in reality. Then again, it could be the Vicodin. The ending in particular seemed a bit vague for my taste. I probably would've enjoyed an epilogue wrapping things up a bit more cleanly, but part of me is also glad it isn't clear. That way, my mind can direct the rest of the story however it wants.

Lonnie's cult following is also quite interesting. He seems to have brought people hope that anybody could become somebody important. His story tells people that they can rise above their nothingness, even if only for dinner. I don't quite understand why "Armani-man" was willing to give up his life for that, though. I understand a person rooting for the underdog, but how many people would really be willing to risk their lives for someone who stole a few dinners and could have killed someone? That's one part of the story that just doesn't sit well with me.

Freedom is an interesting theme in this book. On the one hand, Claire gave Lonnie the freedom to be whatever he wanted - to rise above mediocrity and live as someone important.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was lucky to get an advance copy of Goldberg's first novel.
Tod Goldberg's "Fake Liar Cheat" is a page turner from the opening sentence to the final words. Goldberg's style brings you right into the story and right into the mind of Lonnie Milton( the main character). Through Goldberg's words, I felt I knew Lonnie as well as I know my own son. The dialogue was real, the scene settings were so well described I could picture myself at a table near Claire and Lonnie in some of LA's best places to be seen. This is not a book to read piece-meal. Let me warn you , once you start reading about the perils of Lonnie, you won't want to stop. And, then, you'll go back and read sections again to jot down and remember some of Lonnie's thoughts about life. I've read many of Goldberg's short stories and am happy he moved on to the novel form because he is a winner in this category, too.
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Format: Paperback
I don't know, maybe it's me but I just can't seem to get overly excited about these MTV books. They all seem basically they same to me, all pandering to the MTV generation of Britney Spears non-readers. They must be doing a good job though because we keep buying their books.

Fake Liar Cheat was okay. Nothing more than that. It reminded me of other MTV books that I've read in the past in that a lot of its plot lines and characters were unrealistic and underdeveloped. This book does its job of helping to pass the time, but anything beyond that is a stretch. If you're looking for good indie reading that is as believable as it is powerful, then I always recommend reading Dylan Raskin. These MTV books are just for passing time while waiting for the doctor.
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