After taking a look at the first few words of KEEP IT REAL,
Bill Bryan's debut novel, you will know whether or not the book
will appeal to you. If you happen to be disgusted, then you might
as well stop reading, because it only gets better (or, depending on
your perspective, worse) as the pages roll by. If you start
laughing --- after you shake your head and re-read that first
sentence a few times, just to make sure you got it right --- then
you are going to love this wild ride through the world of reality
television, guided by a protagonist whose hay wagon is a few bales
short of a full load.
KEEP IT REAL is uproariously, bitingly funny. To paraphrase a
famous golfer, if something in here doesn't offend you, then you
weren't paying attention. Bryan, who has toiled in the television
medium (as a writer and producer for "Coach" and "Night Court") and
knows of what he writes, has come out of the gate wearing razor
blades and lets no one escape unscathed.
Ted Collins, the narrator of the book, is a former investigative
reporter who has experienced a rapid downward slide marked by a
divorce, meltdown and --- perhaps the crowning blow ---
court-ordered supervision of his child visitation. Collins is now a
segment producer for "The Mogul," a reality television show that,
against all odds, has become a hit. Among Collins's few remaining
assets: a talent for off-the-cuff improvisation and a rapier-like
wit capable of skewering everyone within a 100-yard radius.
Collins inadvertently witnesses an altercation between Boney, a
superstar rapper who needs a hit CD, and Patrice, his smoking-hot
girlfriend. When Patrice subsequently goes missing, Collins is
certain that she has met with foul play and that the "playa," if
you will, is Boney. Collins gets the wild idea to feature him as a
Mogul on the program in order to gain access to his home and
property for the purpose of investigating him and hopefully
ascertaining the fate of Patrice.
Collins has trouble getting his groove on, torn as he is between
his ex-wife --- now married to a successful entertainment attorney
(who just happens to be representing Boney) --- and Susan DeRosa,
an LAPD detective assigned to investigate Patrice's disappearance.
Collins is a screw-up, professionally and personally, and his
detecting instincts are better than his skills. But he is hilarious
--- all the more so because he says and thinks the same things many
of us do, unbidden or not, either alone or in impolite
Already a major talent in the world of television, Bryan has
crafted an outrageous, hilarious and impressive debut novel. Let's
hope this is only the beginning.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011
Keep It Real