Nothing Serious

( 1 )


Stoned out of his skull!

This is how we find washed-up New York Magazine writer, Digby Maxwell, when he is offered his last chance to redeem himself by becoming editor of a small philosophy magazine headquartered in a rural Vermont college town.

Digby?s assignment: to make the philosophy magazine relevant to contemporary culture. For starters, that requires several more ...
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Nothing Serious

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Stoned out of his skull!

This is how we find washed-up New York Magazine writer, Digby Maxwell, when he is offered his last chance to redeem himself by becoming editor of a small philosophy magazine headquartered in a rural Vermont college town.

Digby’s assignment: to make the philosophy magazine relevant to contemporary culture. For starters, that requires several more tokes. Very deep tokes. A wildly witty novel in the tradition of J.P. Donleavy and Nick Hornsby, Nothing Serious takes serious pot shots at Manhattan pop culture and academic small-mindedness, sexual obsessions and political correctness, 21st century alienation and philosophers ranging from Aristotle to Sartre.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When the founding editor of a New England philosophy magazine expresses his dying wish to see the struggling publication continue in a modernized form, his survivors serendipitously choose as his successor a once-hip, newly out of work pop culture writer whose experience in philosophy is largely limited to a cram session undertaken before the job interview. Klein (Travels with Epicurus) gives us, in Digby Maxwell, a fabulously colorful character self-aware enough to fear having his pseudo-intellectualism exposed. As such, it is a delight to watch him fake his way through situation after situation, enjoying the perks and wealth of his new position with the relish of someone who knows that it is likely to end soon. Primarily told through a limited-omniscient narration focusing on our hero's own thoughts, subplots involving Maxwell's estranged wife and daughter, a brewing conflict on the local college campus over gay rights, and Maxwell's own romantic entanglements help build a surprisingly fun and detailed world for such a short novel. When he proves a surprisingly competent editor after all, and the true reasons behind his hire are revealed, the novel will hold few surprises, but most of the enjoyment of this book is in the journey, and in spending time with a character like Maxwell. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A hip editor takes the helm of Cogito, a stodgy philosophical journal, with mixed--and occasionally hilarious--results. Digby Maxwell has recently left his job at New York Magazine under untoward circumstances--he has lost his ability to be able to spot "the very next thing"--and his initial hope is to get back his former position at the Village Voice. When owner and editor-in-chief Phil Winston quickly disabuses him of that notion, Digby begins smoking a lot of pot and wondering about his future. Enter Felicia Hastings, owner/proprietor of Cogito, a journal known for the intellectual panache of its philosophical inquiry, who rather unaccountably chooses Digby to be the new editor-in-chief, succeeding her late husband, Bonner. Much to the disgust of some of the editorial staff, Digby decides to shake things up by having his first journal focus on the subject of heaven--scarcely worthy of serious analysis according to "real" philosophers. But Digby follows through, relying on old friends--one of whom is a world expert on comic books--to churn out a few metaphysical articles. He also meets Mary, a local Unitarian minister and widow, who has some serious views on the topic. Life gets complicated when Digby becomes smitten with Mary (though he is more intimately involved with the hypersexual Winny). Amid a personal life that's falling apart--Digby's wife has left him for Phil Winston, and his daughter Sylvie is making a good living writing online erotica--Digby tries to overcome Felicia's plot to undermine her own journal and to woo the sweetly innocent Mary. Klein has a light--or "lite"--touch when it comes to both philosophy and love.
Starred Review - Booklist Reviews
"Klein's second existential novel is as thought-provoking as The History of Now (2009), with a heavier dose of sharp, witty humor. Klein is a master of relevant social commentary, and his background as a writer of both mysteries and philosophy is clearly evident, resulting in an exceptional story sprinkled with philosophical overtones and rounded out with the perfect amount of symbolism and allegory."
NY Journal of Books
"Klein creates a tightly plotted comedic tale with a genuine emotional center and a sharp satirical wit. He lambastes in equal measure the politically correct pieties of academia and the hyper-trend-conscious attitudes of New York hipsters. Beneath the scabrous humor there is genuine love for all humanity. The title is a big clue. In the end, the title says it all. The pursuit of happiness involves to some degree the ability to not take things seriously. Nothing Serious is a short sweet novel."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579623142
  • Publisher: Permanent Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/5/2013
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,095,153
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Klein is the author of The History of Now, winner of ForeWord Magazine's Silver Award for best literary novel of 2009. He is also co-author of the international bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, and author of the 2012 bestseller, Travels with Epicurus. A graduate of Harvard in philosophy, Klein lives in Great Barrington, Massachusettes.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent blend of modern culture and philosophy with a touch of

    Excellent blend of modern culture and philosophy with a touch of mystery and immortality:

    What happens to the predictor of trends when predictions become out of date before the papers go to press? What happens to immortality when time moves too fast? And what happens when a modern upstart takes over a stodgy university journal of philosophy?

    Digby ponders whether finding a job with an Independent Philosophy Magazine might be the perfect solution to his financial woes, though “What exactly would a dependent philosophy magazine consist of?” he muses. Still, it’s a job, and Digby needs a job. It even holds out the possibility of redeeming his career, reviving his immortal fame, and giving him a place to live while he, perhaps, redefines who is living his life.

    Of course, the place Dibgy moves to abounds with rumors and questions. Why did he get the job instead of someone more qualified? What curious revelation did the magazine’s owner have just before he died? And who’s trying to get their hands on Hastings Towers? Not to mention, why?

    Well-drawn, nicely analytical backstory threads into the narrative while the reader stays firmly entrenched in Digby’s head—at least as much Digby himself stays in his head. Fascinating snippets of philosophy pop up, mixed with pop culture references and vivid satire, all blended like an ideal “toke” and smoked to perfection. While Nietzsche may declare “There are no facts, only interpretations,” Digby’s interpretations draw closer to fact as the story progesses, and the mystery to resolution, though, of course, as time moves on the answers might not matter as much as they seemed. Meanwhile there’s a magazine to put out, and dead owners might seek immortality in its pages.

    Events move forward to a delicious denouement, immortality retreats in face of identity, and Digby, just maybe, finally works out who he and everyone else is. Or maybe not. The perfect epilogue ties it all together, but please resist the urge to read it first.

    Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this novel from the publisher, the Permanent Press, in exchange for my honest review.

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