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Truth in Advertising

John Kenney

5 Reviews

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Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

In the spirit of Then We Came to the End and This Is Where I Leave You, John Kenney mines his own advertising background to create this moving debut.

Finbar Dolan is lost and lonely. Except he doesn't know it. Despite escaping his blue-collar Boston upbringing to carve out a mildly successful career at a Madison Avenue ad agency, he's a bit of a mess and closing in on forty. He's recently called off his wedding. Now, a few days before Christmas, he's forced to cancel a long-postponed vacation in order to write, produce, and edit a Superbowl commercial for his diaper account in record time.

Fortunately, it gets worse. He learns that his long-estranged and once-abusive father has fallen ill. And that neither his brothers nor his sister intend to visit. It's a wake-up call for Fin to re-evaluate the choices he's made, admit that he's falling for his co-worker Phoebe, question the importance of diapers in his life, and finally tell the truth about his life and his past.

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Praise for Truth in Advertising

  • A quick-witted, wry sendup of the advertising industry and corporate culture...A clear-eyed, sympathetic story about complex family ties and the possibility of healing - Washington Post

  • 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

  • We're sold on Kenney's trenchant, quick-witted debut - Entertainment Weekly

  • A lively debut that has 'movie deal' written all over it. - People Magazine

  • In this Nick Hornby-esque fiction debut, midlife crisis and family tragedy force a 39-year-old ad man to reevaluate his priorities. - O Magazine, Ten Titles to Pick Up Now

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John Kenney

John Kenney 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. Visit

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