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Penguin: Putnam Trade Fall 2018

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Talk to Me
By (author): John Kenney
9780735214378 Hardcover English General Trade FICTION / Literary Jan 15, 2019
$35.00 CAD
Active 6.19 x 9.29 x 1.1 in 320 pages Putnam G.P. Putnam's Sons
Entertainment Weekly, New & Notable

New York Post, Best Book of the Week

By the author of the New York Times bestseller, Love Poems for Married People, and the Thurber Prize-winner Truth in Advertising comes a wry yet tenderhearted look at how one man’s public fall from grace leads him back to his family, and back to the man he used to be.

It’s a story that Ted Grayson has reported time and time again in his job as a network TV anchor: the public downfall of those at the top. He just never imagined that it would happen to him. After his profanity-laced tirade is caught on camera, his reputation and career are destroyed, leaving him without a script for the first time in years.

While American viewers may have loved and trusted Ted for decades, his family certainly didn’t: His years of constant travel and his big-screen persona have frayed all of his important relationships. At the time of his meltdown, Ted is estranged from his wife, Claire, and his adult daughter, Franny, a writer for a popular website. Franny views her father’s disgrace with curiosity and perhaps a bit of smug satisfaction, but when her boss suggests that she confront Ted in an interview, she has to decide whether to use his loss as her career gain. And for Ted, this may be a chance to take a hard look at what got him to this place, and to try to find his way back before it’s too late.

Talk to Me is a sharply observed, darkly funny, and ultimately warm story about a man who wakes up too late to the mess he’s made of his life…and about our capacity for forgiveness and empathy.

Story Locale: New York, NY

GLOWING REVIEWS AND CRITICAL ACCLAIM: John Kenney’s debut novel, Truth in Advertising, received incredible reviews, with the Washington Post calling it a “clear-eyed, sympathetic story about complex family ties and the possibility of healing,” and from The New York Times, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and USA Today. It was a People Book Pick, a Boston Globe Book of the Week, Book Riot’s funniest novel of the year, and one of O Magazine’s “Ten Titles to Pick up Now.”

BOOKSELLER AND AUTHOR FAVORITE:Truth in Advertising made the January 2013 Indie Next List and was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month. Kenney was’s blogger for the week of on-sale, and the book garnered strong word-of-mouth praise from booksellers and well-known humorists such as Monty Python’s Eric Idle and Andy Borowitz and literary all-stars like Jami Attenberg and William Landay.

PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR:Truth in Advertising won the 2014 Thurber Prize for American Humor (beating out David Letterman), and Kenney has twice hosted the awards since. He has major literary chops, with a background as a New Yorker “Shouts and Murmurs” contributor and as an advertising copywriter.

A WRY BUT TENDER STORY: At its heart, Talk to Me is the story of a man who wakes up to the mess of his life and tries to find his way back to the man he used to be. Kenney’s writing is droll, funny, warmhearted, and engaging, as well as timely; Ted Grayson’s fall from grace taps into the recent media focus on public downfalls, including those of major media figures. But the novel is more than a story about the media—it is a tender look at family, marriage, and the passing of an era.

John Kenney is the author of Truth in Advertising, which won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2014. He has worked as a copywriter in New York City for seventeen years. He has also been a contributor to The New Yorker magazine since 1999. Some of his work appears in a collection of The New Yorker’s humor writing, Disquiet, Please! He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Author Residence: Brooklyn, NY

Marketing: National author tour

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Op-eds and author essays

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Reading group guide online

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Praise for Truth in Advertising

“The protagonist, Finbar Dolan, is Don Draper stripped of all his glamour, success and pomade. What Fin, a midlevel copywriter, does have on Don is a sense of humor…. Framed around a surprisingly sweet romance, as well as Fin’s eventual confrontation with his painful family history, this debut offers a pleasing lightness-to-heart ratio.” —New York Times

“Peppered with colorful impressions of New York City life, Truth in Advertising is a quick-witted, wry sendup of the advertising industry and corporate culture…. Delivers a clear-eyed, sympathetic story about complex family ties and the possibility of healing.” —Washington Post

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