Attack of the Theater People, by Marc Acito
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I read the first in this series (How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater) in 2009 while we were at our beloved Sylvia Beach Hotel. In that book, Acito tells the story of Edward Zanni, who is so desperate to go to Juilliard that he and his friends--mostly theater people--resort to embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail to help him achieve his goals. It's over the top madcap farce with a theatrical twist.
Attack of the Theater People picks up the plot two years later, when Zanni has been kicked out of Juilliard for being too "jazz hands." He ends up becoming a party motivator for bar and bat mitvahs and business events, and soon he's participating in insider trading deals. It's not that Edward does not have any ethics...it's just that he can't keep himself from getting sucked into unethical and illegal arrangements.
I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first...at times it was just a bit too over the top for me. But what I found especially fascinating about this book is that since I read the first one, I learned that I know one of the inspirations for one of Edward's extremely loyal, creative friends. (Much of Acito's storytelling is based on his life experiences, obviously spun way beyond what really happened.) This put a whole new spin on the book for me.
Here's Acito--who until this spring lived in Portland but has since moved back to New York--talking about the novel:
You can read more about Acito on his web site or blog.