Fame is both empty and destructive in About Face, the razor-sharp literary thriller by William Giraldi (American Audacity; Hold the Dark). After Seger Jovi writes a scathing piece about Val Face for a biweekly magazine in Boston, he doesn't expect a phone call from Face's assistant, asking to meet with him. And he certainly does not anticipate that the meeting will result in an offer to join Face's New England tour as its official writer. Jovi sees the charismatic guru as "little more than a calculated mash-up of the raconteur, the coquet, and the motivational speaker... a hunkier Tony Robbins." He has doubts about taking the job, especially because Face and his team will have final approval over anything he writes, but he needs the opportunity. And he believes there must be a reason that Face chose him over an adoring fan.
The labyrinthine bureaucracy of assistants and the absurdity of life as part of a celebrity entourage would have been plenty of material alone for a comic novel. The dialogue is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, such as in a discussion between Jovi and Face--argued with the seriousness of the First Council of Nicaea--about the best Bruce Springsteen album. But as Jovi begins to develop a strange sympathy for Face, it also becomes clear that the star has a potentially violent stalker.
This gripping tale will keep readers on the edge of their seats while leaving them pondering what makes celebrity--and what it costs. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library