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.