20 November 2012

Books: Let Nothing You Dismay by Mark O'Donnell (1998)

It's Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve in Manhattan--five days from the holiday Ground Zero--but Tad Leary, the most confused man on earth, doesn't know whether to celebrate or go crazy. He's just been fired, he's about to be evicted from his sublet, he's getting nowhere on his overdue folklore thesis, "Social Hierarchies of Imaginary Places," and on top of everything else at age thirty-four (older than Christ), he's five-foot-one and still baby-faced, so he's treated like a child wherever he goes. Nonetheless, he's been invited to seven different Christmas parties that day, and he decides to explore every one of them for possible work, apartments, love, and just plain distraction. 

I picked up Let Nothing You Dismay mainly due to the fact that writer Mark O’Donnell passed away in August and was reading his bio. He and Thomas Meehan shared the 2003 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for their work on Hairspray, and they wrote the 2007 film adaptation. The pair also worked on another John Waters musical adaptation, Cry-Baby, for which they received a 2008 Tony nomination. His twin brother, Steve O’Donnell, is the head writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and wrote two episodes of The Simpsons.

So I was intrigued and was able to find a used edition of his book at Iliad’s in North Hollywood. But while the novel is well written -filled with some tasty one-liners that will make you smile- the book takes forever to get going. And at a slim 193 pages, that’s a problem. Also, Tad seems a bit lost –which I guess is the point of the novel, a man at the crossroads- but I found this drifting from one party to the next more pointless than interesting. The book starts great and then there is this whole middle part that seems out of place with the start, and only in the final few pages does it become interesting again. 

The question is, if I find a used edition of his first book, Getting Over Homer, do I risk buying it after being somewhat disappointed with his second?

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