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© Bella Stander

book reviews

True Story: A Novel
by Bill Maher
(Simon & Schuster)

January/February 2001

by Bella Stander

Stand-up comedian Maher, as any fan knows, is great at acerbic one-liners. The table of contents absolutely kills, with such chapter headings as "Show Me the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, and Somewhere There's a Guy Who's Tired of Fucking Her" and "People: The Problem That Won't Go Away." However it takes more than a string of zingers to make a novel. The story, about five struggling small-time NYC comedians (which is to say, losers) in 1979, has less narrative drive-and certainly less real feeling-than the foreword, in which Maher describes the existential angst that drove him to pen this opus nearly a decade ago. He tells rather than shows all about his indistinguishable "heroes," who bear the unlovely monikers of Dick, Shit, Fat, Chink and Buck: what they did, think, said, ate; where they went; whom they screwed or wished they could screw. Some of the descriptions and snippets of dialogue are indeed funny, and Maher offers some mordant truisms about the comedy biz; but really, he should stick to his night job.

© 2001 Bella Stander

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