William Giraldi and S.E. Boyd at Harvard Book Store
About Face :
The Lemon :
December 12, 2022
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes WILLIAM GIRALDI—author and Master Lecturer at Boston University—and S. E. BOYD—a creation of veteran journalists Kevin Alexander, Joe Keohane, and editor Alessandra Lusardi—to discuss their new novels About Face and The Lemon
A Return to In-Person Events
Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:
- Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.
About About Face
Evoking such classics as Elmer Gantry and The Day of the Locust, William Giraldi’s About Face boldly transfers the perennial literary themes of celebrity, ambition, and obsession to twenty-first-century Boston. There we meet Val Face, a charismatic self-help guru who captivates multitudes with his uncanny ability to heal adherents using only the power of his words, the mysterious touch of his hands, and the transcendent beauty of his face.
Assigned to write a profile of Val Face during his much-hyped New England tour, thirty-year-old impoverished journalist Seger Jovi pens a brutal hatchet job. But Seger, at once curious and incredulous, is soon sucked into the mystic’s vortex of fame, becoming a devotee himself as he contends with the machinations and absurdities of Face’s many protectors, from beefcake bodyguards to helicoptering handlers to Face’s unwavering spouse, Nimble. At first unwilling to sacrifice his principles to fulfill his own ambition and rise from privation, then touched by Face’s unexpected humanity, Seger oscillates between acting as Face’s cynical foil and becoming his unlikely ally.
Just as the exalted guru appears to be reaching the apex of his powers, danger threatens from the periphery in the form of an obsessive stalker who wants Face dead. To curb this stalker before he can do harm, Face’s security team enlists the aid of Jackie Jaworski, an ex-Marine and resourceful Boston detective who moonlights as a novelist of thrillers. And so About Face, building to a denouement that will astonish readers, takes us into the convergence of violence and fame that has come to define so much of American popular culture over the last half-century.
With its indelible array of characters, hypnotic pacing, and shocking conclusion―and “a mesmerizing prose style that is downright pyrotechnic in its brilliance” (Andre Dubus III)―About Face is a novel in the grand tradition that dances along the tenuous line between the sacred and the profane.
About The Lemon
While filming on location in Belfast, Northern Ireland, John Doe, the universally adored host of the culinary travel show Last Call, is found dead in a hotel room in an apparent suicide. As the news of his untimely demise breaks stateside, a group of friends, fixers, hustlers, and opportunists vie to seize control of the narrative: Doe’s chess-master of an agent Nia, ready to call in every favor she is owed to preserve his legacy; down-on-her-luck journalist Katie, who fabricates a story about Doe to save her job at a failing website; and world-famous chef Paolo Cabrini, Doe’s closest friend and confidant, who finds himself entangled with a deranged Belfast hotel worker whose lurid secret might just take them all down.
Bolstered by the authors' insider knowledge of high-end restaurants and low-end media, The Lemon delivers a raucous examination of our culture with deliciously cutting prose, crackling dialogue, and an unpredictable plot that will keep you riveted to the last page.
Praise for About Face
"[A] perceptive tragicomedy... Chaos, violence, and aspirations to fame abound." ―New York Times Book Review
"Fame is both empty and destructive in About Face, the razor-sharp literary thriller by William Giraldi (American Audacity; Hold the Dark)... 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, Shelf Awareness
Praise for The Lemon
“[T]his poised and playful debut novel is a sly satire on foodie culture and the modern hype machine. . . . As tart as ‘artisanal citrus,’ as sharp as a chef’s knife, The Lemon is both a gleeful foodie sendup and an incisive takedown of the commercial exploitation of just about everything.” —New York Times Book Review
“Boyd forcefully skewers what they refer to as the ‘Celebrity-Death Industrial Complex’ with spit-take-level humor.” —The Washington Post
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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