Jan 3, 2011

IN THE ROOMS: reviews

"In a sharp, funny, and ultimately touching debut novel from a British film critic and journalist, Patrick Miller, a literary agent transplanted from London to New York, sees the opportunity of a lifetime when he spots his novelist hero, the reclusive Douglas Kelsey, on the street. He follows Kelsey into what turns out to be an AA meeting. Despite not being an alcoholic himself, Miller begins attending meetings to befriend Kelsey, with the hope of getting him to publish again, with Miller as his agent. Shone's depiction of AA meetings and their attendees is darkly humorous. His gradual revelations about Miller's real character are what keep the book humming along until a surprising and satisfying ending. Along the way, Shone also introduces us to Felix the eccentric and Lola the love interest, both strong supporting characters. VERDICT Recommended for readers of Nick Hornby and Joshua Ferris." — Amy Watts, Library Journal Reviews
"Shone's comic tone keeps a happier than expected ending free of mawkishness and offers some guarded optimism and self-acceptance, notions that work their way into Patrick's character with a hard-earned grace." — Publisher's Weekly

"Best known for his long tenure with the Sunday Times, British film critic Shone (Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer, 2004) brings together breakneck comic dialogue and a British comic’s irreverent attitude toward America’s sacred cows in his debut novel. A comedy that is tangentially about alcoholism, the book has that hazy, thick-minded sensation of a hangover. Shone’s mirror on New York City is Patrick Miller, a British refugee from the London publishing scene who has fled to the new world after a horrendously bad breakup. This is a bloke so damaged he flees his own countrymen. “Even the Samoans had their flag-waving day, the Puerto Ricans their march,” Miller bemoans. “You never heard a peep out of the British. All we got was the chance to look vaguely apologetic on July 4. We were the guys everyone had come here to get away from. Our mere presence canceled out the point of the place.” Miller plots a Hornby-esque second chance when he spots Douglas Kelsey, a legendary two-fisted novelist whose seminal novel made him a man of American letters before he flamed out over a war of words with his publisher. Naturally, Patrick can’t just slide up to Kelsey, though. He has to stalk him all the way into an AA meeting, where he feigns being a drunk in order to cozy up to his next paycheck. The dichotomy between the two—Patrick the anxious neophyte who’s way out of his league and Kelsey the grizzled eccentric—is endearing, more so than the clumsy romance that Shone throws in for balance. And there’s a little truth beneath its glossy sheen, too. “It’s not alcoholism that creates great novels,” Kelsey explains. “And it’s not sobriety. It’s denial.” — Kirkus Reviews


  1. The American edition is different from the British, which was wrenched from my arms a little prematurely. I continued to work on it until I was happy with it and that's the version Thomas Dunne published. It's much better I think, although I hope nobody gets into any fights with their English friends or relatives.