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Truth in Advertising: A Novel Audiobook, by John Kenney Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: John Kenney Narrator: Robert Petkoff Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9781442358515
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (841 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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A wickedly funny, honest, and poignant debut novel about the absurdity of corporate life, the complications of love, and the meaning of family.

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 a 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 of his brothers or 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 coworker Phoebe, question the importance of diapers in his life, and finally tell the truth about his life and his past.

First-time novelist John Kenney, a regular New Yorker contributor, mines his own advertising background to weave spot-on, compelling insider detail into a hilarious, insightful, at times sardonic, and ultimately moving debut.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “John Kenney writes with style, intelligence, humor, and heart. Truth in Advertising is a frank and wickedly funny peek into a world you only think you’ve seen, a glossy, high-powered ad agency. But it is also something more: the story of a man thoroughly marinated in the little white lies of advertising who must learn, finally, to be honest with himself. Highly recommended.”

    William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob

  • “With wit and style, John Kenney’s Truth in Advertising nails the advertising world’s absurd complexities and hilarious personalities. But it goes beyond a send-up of corporate America: this is an open, funny, emotionally true book, with numerous charms. I found it irresistible.”

    Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author

  • “No one makes me laugh like John Kenney. So I expected Truth in Advertising to be very funny, and it is. But I was unprepared for how deeply felt and richly observed it would be. This is a beautiful novel and a dazzling debut.”

    Andy Borowitz, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Made me laugh my ass off. Now I have a new ass.”

    Eric Idle, Monty Python’s Flying Circus

  • “A hilarious ad-world satire…The advertising insider lore and commercial shoot set pieces are golden…A comic tour de force; fans of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper will have a new author to watch for.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “With wry wit, excellent pacing, and pitch-perfect, often hilarious, dialogue, Kenney has created something remarkable: a surprisingly funny novel about an adult American male finally becoming a man. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A masterful blend of wit and seriousness, stunning in its honesty. A novel sure to appeal to fans of Nick Hornby.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “With wry humor, always on point, Kenney guides us through the maze of work, family, love (elusive), and friendship (a lifesaver). This is an outstanding debut.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “John Kenney has written a funny, biting, brilliant account of modern capitalism and consumerism. If Mad Men has glamorized the ad game then Truth in Advertising goes one better by making it funny as hell. This is the Catch-22 of contemporary corporate America.”

    Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of Triburbia

  • Selected for the January 2013 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” in January 2013

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Myonly | 2/20/2014

    " Slow start and I wasn't sure I would stick with it, but I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it and loved the author's writing style. I'm looking forward to more from him! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 2/18/2014

    " Quick, perfect read. Funny, poignant -- just like a perfect commercial and just in time for the Super Bowl. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bev | 2/10/2014

    " This book grew on me. Get past the very beginning which was a little confusing and you'll enjoy a great story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kappy | 2/5/2014

    " A quick read but very funny in places when observing some of our current culture. There were serious reflections as well as the display of wit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 2/4/2014

    " The title intrigued me on the new book shelf - the font is close to some company's logo. Is it Coca Cola? And there is not much truth in advertising, so that's interesting, too, and funny before the book is opened. Advertising was a major part of my professional life, and when it's not incredibly stressful, it's ridiculously funny. Kenney worked in ad agencies and he has writing skills and a keen eye for the stereotypical ad agency types, and they all have a role in this book. Finbar Dolan's life story is engaging enough to keep reading about, but it is the troupe that kept me entertained. Ian, Pam, Jill, Phoebe, Martin, Frank, even Dodge are bit players that eat up the scenery and are so well fleshed I think I know some of them. 40 year old men coming of age stories aren't interesting enough as a major plot element, but Kenney has enough writing chops to stir the action and sauce the storyline to engage the reader. I'll read more of Kenney's work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caitlin | 1/26/2014

    " I'm a self-proclaimed marketing nerd so perhaps my review is a bit biased. But I think anyone who is interested in the advertising world at all, or anyone who thinks it's BS, will really love this book. Kenney has created a delightfully snarky narrator, though not to the point where he comes across as pretentious. In fact the reader empathizes with him and his own confusion - Finbar is truly lost and doesn't know what to make of the world around him, the world he works in. Some portions of the book toward the end could have come out very cheesy but Kenney makes them work and fit well with the earlier satirical portions of the novel. A must read with laugh out loud moments! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 1/20/2014

    " didn't get real far into it--I found it and the main character tedious "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ross | 1/1/2014

    " Thought this would be as fun, cynical story of a sad sack working in the ad biz. Turned out to be full of heart about work, friendships and family. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brandon | 12/3/2013

    " 2.5 stars mostly with a few 3.0 star scenes "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 11/4/2013

    " As stated by others, if you like Nick Hornby you will enjoy this book. While I thought the ending was somewhat pat and more than a little sentimental for some reason I still found it effective. For a first novel, this was an excellent book and I would highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 9/12/2013

    " Great book! Hilarious and heartful! If you like Jonathan Tropper, you will like this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 8/22/2013

    " I just finished this book and I was alternating between laughing out loud (literally) and being profoundly moved. It manages to combine humor and drama seamlessly, not an easy thing to pull off. A very enjoyable first novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Morgan | 8/6/2013

    " This was one of the best novels I've read in a long time. But then, I'm the type of woman who loves Nick Hornby novels. If you are the type of woman who threw "High Fidelity" across the room maybe skip this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin | 7/8/2013

    " Modern day, stripped down Madmen; last pages had me choked up. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 eb | 6/8/2013

    " Painfully, wincingly unfunny. There are pages and pages of dialogue that's meant to be snappy and witty, but that's actually predictable and flat. The failed satire of advertising is bad enough, but halfway in, the novel turns into a maudlin family drama. Avoid! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 C | 5/28/2013

    " Funny and touching. A perfect characterization of agency life and life in general. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 4/20/2013

    " Started off slow, but got better as it went along. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 4/5/2013

    " Humorous. Excellent first novel. Narrative problems though, dragged on, and perhaps confused as to whether it wanted to be an industry book or a sprawling family portrait. "

About the Author

John Kenney is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller Love Poems for Married People. 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!

About the Narrator

Robert Petkoff is an actor and audiobook narrator who has won a prestigious Audie Award and multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards. He has appeared on Chappelle’s Show, Law & Order, and Quantum Leap. His Broadway credits include Sir Robin in Spamalot, Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof, and Tateh in Ragtime.