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Leading Man (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – September 3, 2013
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Although only in his twenties, Maxwell Lerner is pretty sure he already has the perfect life. A writer for a well-known magazine, he lives in a New York City apartment with his beloved high-school sweetheart, Samantha. But when Sam leaves him for his childhood idol, film star Johnny Mars, that perfect life is suddenly gone. In his new life, Max becomes a popular celebrity interviewer, traveling to all corners of the earth, meeting with the rich and famous. Although his new life appears more exciting, Max suffers from increasing disillusionment. Bouncing from one girl to another, he seeks to understand the secret behind fame itself while desperately holding onto the hope that he will one day win Samantha back. When tragedy strikes her world, though, Max is again forced to reevaluate life as he knows it. Drawing on his own years with Entertainment Weekly, Svetskey melds a poignant love story with a witty satire of Hollywood life. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this playful and moving read will especially appeal to pop-culture fans. --Cortney Ophoff
“Svetkey melds a poignant love story with a witty satire of Hollywood life. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this playful and moving read will especially appeal to pop-culture fans.”
“Leading Man is a funny, sharp deconstruction of our fame-obsessed, media-savvy culture, a charming love story, and a ridiculously fun read.”
-Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“Benjamin Svetkey's very funny first novel takes the reader on a zippy ride through the underbelly of entertainment journalism. Any faithful reader of glossy magazines will coo with pleasure at Svetkey's descriptions of the superficial and manufactured world of celebrity and fame, told through the lens of the girl who got away.”
-Emma Straub, author of Other People We Married, and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
"If you read this book: You will laugh at Svetkey's gleeful skewering of our celebrity and media-obsessed culture. You will try to guess which celebrities Svetkey is really writing about from his years as a journalist at Entertainment Weekly. And when you least expect it, you will realize his true mission: to tell a stunningly moving love story. Which he manages to do in spades."
-Liz Tuccillo, author of How to Be Single and co-author of He's Just Not That Into You
“Having spent two decades in the shiny dark heart of the infotainment complex, Ben Svetkey has applied his knowing, bemused eye and ear to Hollywood and media absurdities to produce that rare thing, a coming-of-age satire with heart.”
-Kurt Andersen, author Turn of the Century and True Believers
Top customer reviews
All in all, leading man is just plain fun that also leaves you thinking. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
The basic delight was in the main character's wry sense of humor as he fumbles his way into some maturity. I really cared about him which speaks to the excellence of the writing as he is a selfish, confused mess of a young man.
This is a very enjoyable read.
The main character, Maxwell Lerner, is a 20-year-old writer at a celebrity magazine and feels he has the perfect life, until his live-in girlfriend Samantha leaves him to marry his favorite male movie star. He's devastated and fantasizes about stealing her back from her "A-list" husband. To further his goal, he gets a job in her world of movie stars and money. He lives in New York but becomes an in-demand celebrity interviewer, traveling the world to meet the stars.
In that world, Max has a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality, but ultimately gets the larger picture. In this coming-of-age story, he goes from boy to man in a painful process of relinquishing his phony aspirations of a life with Samantha and begins to seek a real life with a "real" girl...in the real world.
I admire the way that author Benjamin Svelkey weaves his tale, making it an easy, yet exciting reading experience. I love plays on words, humor and self-deprecation. Svelkey excels at all three.
His style is perfect for this type of book, giving readers true insight into behind-the-scenes happenings, some hilarious and others serious to the point of distraction. Since I've sat across or beside some big names, it's easy for me to know what Max is feeling. I grew to like him and empathized with him...through thick and thin.
Is Max's new life more exciting than his old? What disillusions him about the jet set? Why does he bounce from girl to girl. When does he finally reevaluate his life? And most important, does he ever get Samantha back? Does he want to? And how does he respond when Samantha's life falls apart?.
Svetkey answers those questions and more...in his own witty, satirical way. This is a must read!
I love pop culture! Love this book and look forward to more from this author!
Review by Betty Dravis, April 16, 2014
Author of "Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons"
Svetkey, who worked for a long time at Entertainment Weekly, fittingly tells an entertaining story in prose that flows easily and is quite funny -- lots of insider tidbits (about New York and Hollywood), eloquent metaphors and interesting personalities. I liked it very much. And considering that I could read it in a few hours, and never got bored, that is enough for five stars from me.
Max is a lowly beginning writer at an entertainment magazine, but he's happy. He gets to meet celebrities, muse about the meaning of fame, and live with the first and only love of his life in a little New York apartment. When the girl he's loved since he was twelve leaves him for a movie star, Max experiences an existential crisis, and is determined to get her back, faking a calm friendship with her even as he's inwardly seething with envy and jealousy. She left him for his favorite actor!
There are plenty of books that cover similar territory. What sets Leading Man apart is that Max is a believable and relatable character, a young guy who struggles to find meaning and to cope with heartache while jetting about interviewing celebrities and telling his story in an articulate and funny narrative voice.
Great writing, an entertaining story, insider observations and a quick read make this a lively and appealing first novel. Look forward to others.