When you first begin reading John Kenney’s debut novel Truth in Advertising, you might mistake the narrator for yet another one of those twentysomething lost-in-the world voices. Finbar Dolan might be lost, but he’s almost forty. A copywriter at an ad agency, he finds himself on the sets of commercials discussing baby diapers while trying to navigate the minefield of his family life. We learn in bits and pieces that his entire family is unraveling, that his abusive father is dying in a hospital, that his mother committed suicide when he was twelve, that no one in the family talks about it, that they don’t even talk to each other all that much.
As a former advertising exec, Kenney certainly has a feel for skewering his former industry, but he’s also got a strong feeling for the turbulent currents of work and family.