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336 pages (Fall 2005); 6.4MB downloadECW Press
; ISBN: 1-55022-714-9
Author Jason Anderson was inspired to write Showbiz when he read an article in Entertainment Weekly about Vaughn Meader -- the most famous man no one has ever heard of. Meader was once one of the biggest-selling recording artists of all time, as a Kennedy impersonator, cracking lighthearted jokes at the president's expense. On November 22, 1963, his career died along with the president. After JFK's assassination, no one wanted to hear about Kennedy, and certainly didn't want to hear any jokes about him. Meader went from being the second most famous man in America to a nobody overnight.
In Showbiz, Anderson creates an alternate universe where a young journalist named Nathan (a Canuck who lives in New York, even though his visa has run out) finds an old record by someone named Jimmy Wynn in a used record store. He takes it home and listens to it and discovers he was an impersonator of President Cannon, a much-beloved president who was assassinated in New Orleans in 1963. Nathan pitches a story to The Betsey, a magazine devoted to all things Cannon. Wynn's career stopped dead the moment the president was killed, and Nathan sets out to find him by tracking down friends of his, including a man who worked with a mobster in Las Vegas where Wynn hung out with Cannon's "Nevada Delegation"; Lenny Bruce, who, after being a subversive comedy act in the 1960s cleaned up and became a regular on game shows in the 1970s and 80s; Rose, who had headed up an all-girl band when she was a teenager and has a strange connection to Wynn; David Maher, an illusionist known for his strange stunts that stretch the human body to its limits, and many others. As he gets closer to discovering the truth about what happened to Jimmy Wynn, he also discovers someone doesn't want him to get too close. Just as he's about to shed some light on one of the greatest conspiracy theories of all time, he must make a choice between getting the story, or saving his life.
"A whimsical roman a clef."
- Literary Review of Canada
"Showbiz ... is tightly written, full of wacky characters, fun, an adventure for reader and main character alike, and a page turner. ... This is a really good first book."?
- Prairie Fire
"Dozens of laugh-out loud moments ... Showbiz is a fun read and a solid first novel by Anderson."
- The (Montreal) Gazette
"Nervy, funny Showbiz is as flash as a pinkie ring and as sharp as a sharkskin suit. It also has heart, because Anderson has made us care about the two main characters.... Anderson's mimicry of the Camelot years is flawless, and there's a lot of pleasure to be had in spotting the real-life notables who have walk-on parts under other names."
- Quill & Quire
"Anderson demonstrates a powerful imagination and a low-key sense of humour in his 'factional' tale of celebrity, failure and the dangers in remembering things better left forgotten."
- This Magazine
"An ironic homage to America's golden era of entertainment."
- Eye Weekly
"A smart dark comedy."
- Toro Magazine