Title: Just a Typo
Author: John Bennardo
Genre: Humor Fiction
Set in modern times while skipping any reference to COVID-19, this novel focuses on the struggles faced by Mo Riverlake, a game show host who has become a celebrity after years of making jokes at the expense of most everyone around him—all in good fun, or so he thought.
But Mo soon discovers that he’s sitting on a lifetime of libel, slander, and offense as every word and action he’s ever made starts getting turned into an insult. Even his closest friends and his brother turn against him, leaving him at the mercy of his lawyers, Baloney and Mularkey, and with only his own sense of determination and tenacity to see him through a media frenzy of twisted phrases and angry citizens.
Throughout this book, the author takes on “cancel culture” and how social media can impact a person’s life without taking any political sides, letting the narration, which is entirely from Mo’s perspective, carry the story forward without any particular agenda. By the end, the story even offers moments of surprising thoughtfulness about what really matters, what’s truly important, and where one’s priorities might need to be adjusted.
Starting with Mo’s arrest, the plot nicely balances the investigation and how Mo tries to explain to his lawyers where all the evidence is coming from and why it’s wrong while sharing his past and how he came to be a celebrity at the same time. The juxtaposition creates some very effective tension as both the readers and lawyers strive to understand what Mo’s charges are, exactly, and how he went from being a third-generation Italian-American immigrant to the most hated and reviled man in the country.
The depiction of waiting tables, struggling to find a break in the entertainment industry, and longing to feel important and loved establishes Mo as a bit of an underdog, and his sidekick, Lexi, is shown to be far more than an alluring bit of eye candy for his game show. However, this book is not for the sensitive or faint-hearted, as the language and sensuality shown throughout the story clearly establishes it as meant for mature readers.
Similarly, the book can seem to imply that everything should turn out just fine if one’s heart is in the right place, never truly correcting the racial prejudices, insults, and stereotyping that Mo showed throughout his life and narration. While this can establish his insecurities and show that he’s not perhaps ready to be as generous to all as they might deserve—that he’s still a bit caught up in his own emotional needs where the limelight is concerned—it could come across as reinforcing the very attitude that landed Mo into so much trouble in the first place.
Irreverent and heartfelt, this story will appeal to readers who enjoy a solid dose of cultural commentary and adult humor in their books. The author creates compelling characters and a well-paced story set against the backdrop of ambition and the celebrity lifestyle. While unlikely at times, the story maintains a lighthearted viewpoint and a ready sense of humor all the way through.
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