About Face

Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781324091356. $28. F
In this latest from Giraldi (Hold the Dark), a Boston writer pen-named Seger Jovi publishes a highly critical magazine piece on Val Face, a creation of East Boston’s Valentino Detti, who parlays his charisma, godlike looks, and Kahlil Gibran–influenced aphorisms into a highly successful and lucrative career as a self-help guru. Soon after, Jovi receives a call requesting his presence at the hotel where Face is staying on his tour, to meet with the guru himself. Surprisingly, Jovi is offered a job as the tour’s official scribe. Poverty eclipses scruples for Jovi, and he takes the position, becoming a member of Face’s entourage. Jovi, a product of Boston’s Italian North End, soon finds some common ground with Face, although the charismatic manages the relationship between them with alternating intimacy and distance. At Face’s show in Boston, they encounter a stalker, the nondescript Bill, who follows them around New England, first calling in a bomb threat to a show in Maine. When the tour circles back to Boston, Bill precipitates an event that will forever change Face’s life.
VERDICT An insightful, wild, and wildly appealing romp that zeros in on the all-consuming nature of celebrity in the social media–fueled environment of the 21st century.
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