You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Books

Book Review

‘Truth in Advertising’ by John Kenney

What happens when a humor writer pens a novel intended to be both comedic and dramatic? In the case of John Kenney, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, the comedy sparkles while the drama proves formulaic and predictable. It is as though the author, already gravid with mordant one-liners, snappy banter, and hilarious workplace scenarios, decides he also wants to birth an emotionally riveting tale, a task for which he is unprepared.

An indistinct yet no less burdensome cloud of malaise has settled on the not-very-broad shoulders of Finbar Dolan, narrator of “Truth in Advertising.” For Fin, born and bred in Boston, the sheen of New York has dulled considerably since his arrival eight years ago. He also feels unfulfilled professionally. A copywriter at a major Manhattan ad agency, Fin laments, “I make the commercials wherein you turn the sound down or run to the toilet.”

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week