Bookshots: 'Formerly Fingerman' by Joe Nelms

11 comments
Bookshots: 'Formerly Fingerman' by Joe Nelms

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title:

Formerly Fingerman

Who wrote it:

A fun, quirky romp through the world of advertising, the mafia, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Joe Nelms, former ad-man and author of The Last Time I Died.

Plot in a box:

A ne'er-do-well advertising exec who's leveled his career and his marriage (more or less—the marriage part has more to do with his wife's infidelity than the network of lies he habitually spins) sort of, kind of, maybe witnesses a mafia hit...and lies through his teeth to create a new life via the Federal Witness Protection Program.

Invent a new title for this book:

The Sneeze That Changed Things

Read this if you liked:

You need a taste for humor, current pop culture, and, well, the mafia. So...The Godfather AND Saturday Night Live. It's the combo that counts here.

Meet the book's lead(s):

Brad Fingerman is a lazy advertising exec who coulda-shoulda-woulda been an artist...and somehow floats through a decent, mid-level career until a meteoric rise to success....and a catastrophic mistake that drops him into the professional netherworld. He has no qualms about lying to cover his ass. So, you know, a real Mad Men type, minus the sexy Jon Hamm-ness.

Brittany Marinakos is an anorexic FBI agent who hopes to find fame via a big mafia bust.

Stump is a straight-laced bodyguard who doesn't sleep, doesn't drink, and is trying to keep Brad alive long enough to testify against the head of one of the most powerful New York Mafioso families.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Brad should be played by Chris Pratt. Because I said so. 

Brittany could be played by any number of too-skinny Hollywood ladies. 

Stump should and would HAVE to be played by Chris Hemsworth. Once again, because I said so, and I'm casting this movie. Dammit.

Setting (would you want to live there?):

New York City? Absolutely. Minus the mafia hit part.

And Arizona? I'm not sure. I've never been. You tell me—is it a nice place to live?

What was your favorite sentence?

Advertising tends to be the refuge of cowardly artists—the almost-were screenwriters, painters, photographers, sculptors, glassblowers, novelists and playwrights who didn't have the derring-do to try their craft without a comprehensive health plan and a company-matching 401(k). Pussies.

The Verdict:

I really enjoyed Formerly Fingerman. It saw me through a binge-reading sick-day, successfully making me smile while I felt terrible. The tongue-in-cheek tone, chock full of irony and sarcasm, happens to be one of my favorite tones. It's positively goofy sometimes, and I often found myself wondering: Could this really happen? The answer was almost always a resounding: Sort of? Kind of? Maybe? Who knows?

Because it's close enough to reality to strike home, and far enough away to seem unlikely. 

But I like that. I do. I like to wonder if a dude who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time deserves a do-over. Especially when he's as narcissistic and moronic as Brad Fingerman.

And Joe Nelms can write. He really can! He's smart, funny, and snarky, and he kept me interested throughout the entire tale. If I had to criticize him, though, I'd say this: an editor I know once pointed out how tricky it is to use contemporary pop culture references in a story. You run the risk of alienating future readers who have no idea who Simon Cowell is (because let's face it - Cowell's 15 minutes of fame have to be ending soon, right?). I've pulled plenty of these types of references from my own story, but Formerly Fingerman is full of 'em. Brittany Spears references. Contemporary reality TV references. All kinds of movie star references. Formerly Fingerman has them all.

I'm not sure, then, how well this story will hold up through the generations. But for this, for our generation, it's a fun, quirky romp through the world of advertising, the mafia, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I enjoyed the read quite a bit, and I think you will too.

Image of Formerly Fingerman: A Novel
Author: Joe Nelms
Price: $18.23
Publisher: Gallery Books (2015)
Binding: Hardcover, 288 pages
Leah Rhyne

Review by Leah Rhyne

Leah Rhyne is a Jersey girl who's lived in the South so long she's lost her accent...but never her attitude. After spending most of her childhood watching movies like Star Wars, Aliens, and A Nightmare On Elm Street, and reading books like Stephen King's The Shining or It, Leah now writes horror and science-fiction. She lives with her husband, daughter, and a small menagerie of pets.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.

Comments

Tom1960's picture
Tom1960 from Athens, Georgia is reading Blindness by Jose Saramago January 12, 2015 - 7:27am

Yet another book goes on my list. Thanks for the great article.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck January 12, 2015 - 7:39am

Is it required to know the reference to understand what's going on?  That, to me, is the deciding factor on whether they'll impact the relevant shelf life of a work.

I'm always hesitant about using pop references (although they are a guilty pleasure, even if they sometimes feel like a scapegoat).  I leave them in, though, if knowning that particular person/song/movie isn't required by the reader to get what's going on.  My favorite example of this is High Fidelity (which is, really, my favorite thing, period).  I hadn't heard, or even heard of, many of the songs he talked about, but it didn't matter.  The references had nothing to do with the songs themselves, but they effectively conveyed Rob's obsessive and over-analytical tendencies.  You don't have to know who Solomon Burke is to understand that a man who defines his entire relationship with another person based on their opinion of the song "Got to Get You Off My Mind" has some serious emotional defects.

leah_beth's picture
leah_beth from New Jersey - now in Charleston, SC is reading five different books at once. January 12, 2015 - 9:11am

Hahaha, Josh, that's a great point, and a great question. I don't know the answer with regards to this book. I mean, they're copious, and feel almost inside-joke-ish...I just wonder how it'll translate to people who aren't in on the joke, ya know? 

That said, I enjoyed this book!  A lot! Don't let my weirdo question deter you from reading it!

And Tom - you're welcome! I love making people read things. Bwaaa haaa haaaa

Cath Murphy's picture
Cath Murphy from UK is reading Find out on the Unpr!ntable podcast January 13, 2015 - 12:16am

Cowell's 15 minutes of fame have to be ending soon, right?

 

We can but hope.

lezteramigo's picture
lezteramigo September 6, 2016 - 2:46am

Let the pros at Angelo’s Supplies help you beautify your home

with our vast array of mulch, we are Michigan's largest supplier

of landscaping ground cover from Cedar and Hardwood Mulch to

Rubber Mulch and our Color Enhanced Mulches, Redwood, Brownwood,

Blackwood. And for the kids, we offer State Certified Playground

Mulch for under and around swing sets and play structures.

Mulch is not the only item we supply, we offer Brick Pavers,

Retaining Walls from the leading Manufacture's Fendt, Oaks, and

Unilock. Ledgerock, Boulders, Decorative Landscaping Stones,

Scotts Weed and Feed, Scotts Potting Soil, NDS drainage

products, ADS drainage products, Kentucky Blue grass mix.

Need a little help to complete those jobs, Angelo's has all the

rental Equipment you will need to get the job done   snow plow for sale

Eko Moon's picture
Eko Moon October 6, 2016 - 7:02pm

Yoob.net update new-best free games online from internet. Play free action games, free addicting games, puzzle games, sports games, girls games and adventure games online. ..and more. Visit and play funny games at Yoob.net. Thank you

http://www.yoob.net/

huyenle93's picture
huyenle93 October 23, 2016 - 7:19pm

Thanks :))
Free gaming, the best free online games for you!

myfrog.io
wheely
wormax
happy wheels
fireboy and watergirl

Friv 4 school's picture
Friv 4 school November 18, 2016 - 11:20pm

It's useful for me! Thanks for share
have fun with <a href=http://friv4school.xyz/>Friv 4 School</a> or enjoy hot game <a href=http://frivcomfriv.net/>Friv Com Friv</a>, all new games  at <a href=http://friv3-games.org/>Friv 3 Online</a>
Nice day!

M Salman Khan's picture
M Salman Khan December 1, 2016 - 6:25pm

<a href="http://www.zoxy.games//">zoxy</a>

Zoxy.games - Play free action games, free addicting games, puzzle games, sports games, girls games and adventure games online. ..and more. Very funny games at zoxy.games.

Emily1234's picture
Emily1234 January 1, 2018 - 10:47pm

Thank you for sharing!

<a href="http://games.tua3.com"> Games for boys </a>