Debut Fiction Review–Love Is the Punch Line

Kathleen Jones’ debut novel should be appearing tomorrow. It’s a spinning yo-yo of ups and downs in hysterical pursuit of middle-aged romance. Advance review:

Outside observers might wonder what middle-aged romantics Josh Steinberg and Holly Brannigan see in each other, beyond the mirror image of their mutual loneliness. In Kathleen Jones’s debut novel, Love Is the Punch Line, the L.A. comedian and Toronto events planner seem to wonder the same thing.

The on-again, off-again affair between them moves like a yo-yo: she loves me, she couldn’t possibly love me; he wants me, he could have any statuesque groupie he wants, why me? Up and down it goes over the course of a year.

The self-declared ‘Jewish King of Comedy,’ Josh is grinding it out on the dive comedy club circuit all across North America when he falls for the one woman, Irish shiksa Holly, who can’t crack a smile at his jokes. Yet it’s her heckling and unwitting participation in his act that make Josh funny again. Fireworks onstage. Fireworks off-stage. Fireworks in the bedroom. Then come the duds.

Fireworks. Duds. Repeat.

When Holly finally inspires Josh to turn his talent toward the silver screen, parlaying decades as a C-list actor in simple-minded fare like Mr. Right Is Always Wrong and The World’s Smallest Hero, into a screenplay, Josh finds himself making a last run at fame. But he’s stumped by a series of unhelpful figures: a felonious producer; a megalomaniacal director; an arrogant Hollywood A-lister; a no-good agent who takes up with Josh’s sexy pregnant ex.

Either Holly’s faith in Josh will help this abrasive, neurotic has-been find true happiness his yo-yo-ing love life. Or it won’t.




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