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Brad Pitt Won't Leave Me Alone Paperback – July 17, 2011
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After such an eye-catching title, this novel quickly begins to disappoint, though an interesting central character does help. Carol Olenka is a would-be therapist with a major problem: she's a habitual liar and a couple of smaller ones: poor personal hygiene that causes her terrible B.O., and an attraction to unsuitable men. Carol has moved from San Francisco (where "her income had come from a variety of sources, including dog walking. Then she had to leave") to New York-where she takes on any client she can get and fantasizes about a relationship with Brad Pitt based on a few fan letters. Carol seems to thrive on accidents, lies and larcenous behavior:, stealing credit cards, staging fake robberies in her apartment, unknowingly advising a mobster on how to kill an old man in a rest home and make it look like suicide, and arranging to actually meet Pitt himself. Despite all that, she's still not enough to keep this novel interesting. -- manuscript review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization
Brad Pitt won't seem to leave me alone, either. It's a common problem, I suppose. But for Carol, a little too coarse-brained and self-obsessed for her own darn good, Brad Pitt's ever-dutiful annoyingness is all-the-more personal. This excerpt is full wit, fun, unnecessary eeee's and yyyyy's. Why? Just, I guess, because. The author, unable to describe Carol himself, exorcises the dusty stylings of Jane Austen to do the work for him: "Carol Olenka was born into the most modest of family circumstances. She was the oldest daughter of Ted and Lilian Olenka. She had not been an easy birth nor an easy child." What a great, and lazy, idea! -- Amazon Top Reviewer
About the Author
Shannon Hamann (1966-2004) received an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Workshop. He is a widely published poet, but his poetry is not your grandmother’s ode to wild flowers. A collection of his poems, titled Deathdoubledactyl, won Pavement Saw’s 2010 Transcontinental Poetry Book award to be published in October of 2011. His novel, Brad Pitt Won’t Leave Me Alone has been compared to John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces by other writers, unaware of the coincidence of being published posthumously by his mother. Recognition of his talent included a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Steinbeck Fellows Grant, and shortly before his death a travel grant to Japan from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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The main character, Phoebe, is one of the wackiest characters you
could ever hope to meet in a novel or in real life. She lies, she steals,
and she sets herself up as a psychotherapist without any training or
any idea of what a real psychotherapist does. Amazingly, in spite of
all this, she comes across as a sympathetic character, someone you
might like to know, if you can keep her from your personal information.
Her goofy schemes usually turn out to have happy endings, at least
for Phoebe. There are lots of laughs and also dramatic situations resolved
in Phoebe’s inimitable manner. Don’t miss this book. It’ really fun.
If you had told me during the first chapter of the book that I would have ended up feeling sympathy for our heroine, I would have laughed scornfully. However, Shannon Hamann's plot is woven with such skill that I surprised myself, finishing the book with an empathy for what drives someone like Phoebe to perform her "shenanigans".
A great read. Thank you Shannon.