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could be brillig, baby
Probably I would be better off if I didn't date E women. With me it's always been Laurie, Jenni, Candy, Maggie, Debbi, Stacey—all my life, just me and the cheerleading squad. You should find yourself a nice A girl, Keeno always tells me. I can see myself dating a Sasha. There are plenty of girls out there whose names don't even end in vowels—Megan, Beth, Doris, you name it. I bet I've even slept with a few. A friend of mine in college dated a Sam, and he seemed perfectly happy. One thing's for sure: I should know by now that dating an E girl spells trouble. But then again, I have never been the kind of person who learns lessons.
So I shouldn't be that surprised to find myself at a party with a girl named Evie—Evie Goddard. It's a book party at this underground bar, one of those East Village spots where the only indicator that a bar exists is a tiny night-light of a sign next to a stairwell that's like something out of Goya. If there hadn't been a bunch of people mothing by the door I never would have found it. I am not cool enough to know where these stealth hot spots are.
Inside it is a tired-out exhibit of Manhattan's glitterati in their natural habitat. The scenery is familiar, as is the crowd. Gigless models circulate with hors d'oeuvres and the attitude of overqualified assassins. The usual assortment of slick, black-slipped New York women caress the edges of their martini glasses, trying to achieve the perfect combination of sexual desirability and haughty unattainability. And there are the characteristically coifed and manicured New York men amid all of it, indifferent as gondoliers.
The conversation, too, is familiar. It's like they're all actors trying out for the same part: they all make the same gestures with their Scotches, all display the same phony emphaticness— always a dor ing sweetie the new book or de testing dahling the latest reading—while jockeying around the latest ponytailed/goateed / ski - cap - wearing / body - pierced / dressed - all - in - black / vampiri- cally pale/Buddhistically tattooed/flagitiously alcoholic/piously macrobiotic/contemptuously unfashionable-fashionable author du jour who has just published his memoir about his delinquent youth of incest and driftery.
Please, people. Please. I'm only here because invitations to these events are the only real perk of my alleged job as peon in the editorial department of a big publishing house and because I am subject to the sweet delusional sorcery of the Manhattan evening, like all these people have been secretly preparing for my triumphant eclosion into their world of gossip columns and expense accounts.
Harry Driscoll, they'll say. Where have you been? It's so good to meet you at last. We've had our plutocratic yet benevolent eyes on you for quite some time. You can come with us now.
Right. Want to know what really happens at these affairs? I have a few drinks, start enjoying the feeling of being out with Evie—letting myself buy into the false picture of young happy couple on the scene—when some swollen bigwig takes me by the elbow and tells me to get him a gimlet and make it snappy.
Which is to say: I hate these parties more than life itself.
But I am here because Evie asked me. She appeared this afternoon at my cubicle, arms dangling like fishing lines over my partition, and said, Little Harry. I know a girl has to work hard to make your A-list, but come on: let's go rouse the rabble at this so-and-so book party. It will be like life in a Dewar's ad: all high fashion and beautiful people and that fancy kind of no-frost ice in the drinks. You will look the extremist edge of avant-garde in your piece of merde blazer and cravate de Daddy.'
Evie always talks like this. She is the most incandescent person I've ever known. I've seen her use less candlepower with other people, but with me she's always like this—an overeducated auctioneer on speed.
I should have stayed home tonight and gotten some work done. I am behind on several projects at the office, including passing to press the five thousandth annual installment of our Marathoner's Calendar and Logbook. For the book to go forward in a timely manner it's necessary that both design and copyediting get a clean copy of the manuscript by the deadline, and this year I'm late with it. Again. Last year I was late, too, and so the calendar missed its pub date by a whole month. How about that?' I said to Andrew Nadler, my gleefully Old Testament boss. An innovation. The world's first calendar that can't keep track of its own time.'
That was a miscalculation. Nadler didn't take it in the playful, ironic spirit I had hoped to convey.
He never does.
Part of the reason why I didn't put the calendar into production on time is that I couldn't bear to edit it. The calendar is, strictly speaking, a book. It's a spiral-bound, semiglossy, handheld number with one essay on joggerly prudence for every month of the year. In July, make sure you don't run barefoot over glass. In January, avoid polar bears. That kind of interesting stuff.
I know, I know: I shouldn't be denigrating it. It's a very flattering first step to promotion for any editorial assistant, and as I'm the very youngest assistant on the floor, I should be grateful for it. There's this guy we all call Slo-Mo who has his Ph.D. from NYU and has been working for this Brahmin editor for eight years and hasn't even handled a cookbook yet. Four years ago, in only my second year at Prestige, I was given the first calendar—way ahead of the usual assistant's schedule. I should have devoted myself to the mundane details and impressed Nadler with my meticulousness. But I just couldn't bring myself to read through those essays—wicking socks and pulmometers and body fat percentage were not why I'd gone into book publishing—and so before I knew it days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and still the manuscript languished in the bottom drawer of my desk.
Last week my friend Keeno asked me why this year's pub date was in jeopardy again. What's taking so long? Is it that you just don't care, like last year?'
It isn't that I don't care.'
You having trouble with the edits?'
It isn't the edits.'
Well what, then? It's going to be late again, isn't it? Aren't you going to be moderately fucked?'
Keeno's wrong, of course. I'm not moderately fucked. I'm immoderately—fantastically—fucked. I'm so fucked I can't even bring myself to talk about the cause of my extravagant fuckage. It's too awful.
I don't even want to think about it.
Any way you look at it, instead of getting blurred at this party I should be taking certain corrective steps so I can pass the calendar Monday so I might have a prayer of getting it pubbed on time. But I've never been able to resist Evie, and considering the general disintegration of our relationship, I began to succumb to her suasions when she appeared at my cubicle earlier this afternoon.
You could set a trend,' she continued. The waif look is out, the overworked, undercompensated, thoroughly juiced, dead-beat-Brooks-Brothers-hand-me-down WASP look is in. What do you say? Could be brillig, baby.'
—Reprinted from Frog King by Adam Davies by permission of Riverhead, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2002, Adam Davies. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Posted July 3, 2014
Posted April 4, 2008
I haven't had a good read like 'The Frog King' in a long time. Adam Davies is DAZZLING as a first time printed novelist. His characters are so vivid, and not by their physical descriptions. They're vivid in the idiosyncracies the main character (Harry) picks up on for each of the characters. And it's scary that you can even recognize many of these characteristics in people that you know and work with! Most importantly, the dialogue between characters totally draws the reader into the scenes. The verbal banter had me laughing out loud at times...which probably frightened my fellow airplane travelers. A definite recommended read, and I can't wait to read more from Davies in the (hopefully) near future!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 10, 2007
After reading the reviews for this book I decided to purchase it, only to be disappointed. It moves extremely slow- it took me almost 3 weeks to read this book instead of my usual 3 days! The main character often explains thing is so much detail that one gets distracted reading through it. I had to go back and reread a few times because after reading several pages about something so minute I had no idea what the point of it was. The story moves extremely slow until the very end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2003
Davies has a way of making the pathetic seem enchanting and down right hiliarious. However, like the back of the book says, "...this is no fairy tale." Be prepared, and MAYBE you will come out not needing prozac.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Ivy Leaguer Harry Driscoll¿s plans to take over Manhattan via the publishing industry have been edited into some sort of cosmic joke. Instead Harry works as an editorial assistant at Prestige Publishing, which in the book industry means he is beneath the lowest rung of the food chain. Harry loathes his job and that shows in his performance where he works harder at being a misfit with an astronomical error rate than working manuscripts. The only positive thing at the moment in Harry¿s dismal existence is his new girlfriend Evie Goddard, who is also a beneath the food chain editorial assistant. In spite of caring deeply for Evie, Harry, who cannot say that four letter ¿L¿ curse, spends an inordinate amount of his time checking other skirts. Unable to deal with her beloved¿s wandering eyes, Evie ends their relationship not with a bang but with a whimper. Harry realizes what he lost, but still cannot say that four letter word, love, to her. THE FROG KING is an amusing Manhattan romp starring a goofball, whom the intelligent Evie should have earlier or better yet, never take up with such a dud in the first place. The story line is jocularly satirical when Adam Davies takes the reader inside the nastiest elements of the publishing industry as seen from someone enviously looking up at the butts that he wants working exclusively on his manuscript. However, the tale loses steam after awhile as most of the plot centers on the aptly named FROG KING, a buffoon who spends too more time riveted on his needs than forging a meaningful relationship. Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 17, 2002
Posted September 22, 2002
The Frog King is to the novel as the Krispy Kreme is to the doughnut. People should stand in line to get one. I could not put it down. Although I read it in two days (at the supermarket, in line at LL Bean, walking down the street), I later wished I had controlled my appetite for his delicious prose so that it had lasted longer. But then Krispy Kremes do that to you. Enough of the doughnut analogy. Davie's is a master story teller. The reader gets inside Harry Driscoll's mind---from one digression to the next. You can almost feel yourself sinking with Harry the hairball, wanting to beg him to see what he's doing to himself and Evie. Publisher's Weekly didn't understand the book. It's a coming of age book. Yet it's also a book about not writing a book---until the end. It's a love story about someone who can't love. It's a non cliche about a cliche. It's a story of redemption and metamorphosis. It's a comedy about a tragedy. In short,it's a brilliant first novel. Although I'm long past Harry's age, I still have a memory and can relate to the pitfalls of that age. But even if I could not relate to Harry's character, I would love the book for Davies' writing. It was one of the best books I've read in a long time. If you don't read it, you might turn into a frog yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 21, 2002
Posted September 12, 2002
The shamelessly honest narrative of Harry Driscoll and the subtle sensitivity lent to the backdrop of New York City make this book more than worthwhile. Adam Davies has done it all. He has given us a narrator to both hate and love, a setting to crave, and a story to compel us. A great book for everyone.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 19, 2002
I am thoroughly enjoying this book. Despite the fact that Harry's narrative sometimes gets sidetracked (this guy's attention span rivals my younger brothers',) his thoughts are poingant, and often hysterically funny. I especially enjoy his words on finials, and Fruity Newtons. :-)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2002
I found the book really easy to read but, in the end, didn't feel it was very well structured. The end of the book wrapped everything up in a quick, disjointed fashion. The first 3/4 of the book seemed to cover at least a year while the final quarter tried to bring about the character's redemption in a very short time. I thought it was fine for light reading but also found it a bit depressing as a twenty-something in NYC.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2002
This author reminds me of the writing styles of Bret Easton Ellis and Douglas Coupland, but Adam Davies suceeds where the other two fail in capturing real life. Very witty and cleverly written book about Harry Driscoll's experiences (dating, loving, partying, and working in the publishing industry) while living in New York City. Couldn't put the book down and finished it in one sitting. A must read for those who are trying to make it in New York City. Eagerly looking forward to Adam Davies's next book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2002
definitely a witty quick read. but at the heart, the book is incredibly thin and fluffy. probably not unlike the author's twisted, unfortunate perspective as well as his ethics and treatment of younger, more vulnerable female undergrads that he prays upon. not a bad read at all, considering today's standard of dribble. but considering the source of this material, i would stay away from this craddle-robber. ultimately, this book shows some promise, but has a long long way to go.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2002
I think this is Adam's first novel. I searched bn.com for other books by him and didn't find anything. I read a lot, but this book definitely stands out. Every time the main character, Harry, does something stupid, you want to kill him. But by the end, you can appreciate him for the complex person he is. (and you probably know someone just like him!) A fast, fun, light-hearted read. You'll continue to think about it long after you put it down. There's something here for everyone!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2002
Adam Davies has written an amazing book that a whole load of people can relate to. Anyone that lives in NYC will love his local lower east side bar references and be heart-warmed with his tales ot drunken-ness and week night bar tales. His story will uplift you as you will realize that no matter how bad it gets....live does get better. Other folks that will like it would be anyone in marketing, PR and especially the publishing world.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2002
This is an awesome book. I am not much of a reader but this book intrigued me. I could not put it down until I finished it. It always has you thinking and wondering about whats going to happen next. The author understands women and men. He keeps this book real. Topics such as marriage, rejection, death, working for what you want, homeless people, Love, work, and cheating are parts of this book. I think almost anybody can relate to this book and feel what the author is talking about. It's an awesome book. I recommend that you read it. You will not be disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 5, 2002
I thought this book was great! I couldn't put it down, reading THE FROG KING was like watching a good movie. Harry Driscoll is a riot! Ratty apartments, drinking on the job, and kitty litter filled rolls of quarters, this guy has problems but you gotta love him! I am looking forward to another book from Davies.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2002
I met Adam Davies recently. If the rest of this book is as charming as he is, I see nothing but a bright future for him. As a former editorial assistant, I can say with some confidence that Davies has nailed the nefarious inner mechanics of a big publishing company. He's also pretty good at nailing the similarly nefarious inner mechanics of a typical NYC twentysomething male. For a smart end-of-summer read, this is a great pick and I'll be recommending it to my customers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2011
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Posted October 20, 2008
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