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The Frog King: A Love Story

Adam Davies

The Frog King: A Love Story

Author:Adam Davies
Publisher:Riverhead Trade Paperback

By Frank Diller | Posted 8/21/2002

It's not easy being green. Adam Davies probably has a decent book lurking somewhere inside him, but the first-time novelist will need a good editor to find it. Weighing in at more than 300 pages, Davies' dismal debut, The Frog King, wants to be both a romantic comedy and a satire of the publishing industry. Instead, it's just a mess.

Davies assumes that absurdity can pass undetected as wit. Ridiculous details appear throughout an otherwise generic novel so frequently that he could have plotted the tale with a collection of Mad Libs and duct tape. Unlikely? Here's an abridged synopsis: harry driscoll is a struggling writer and bitter editorial assistant in new york city. He works with a bald, german temp and hates his boss. His girlfriend is a co-worker named evie. She suffers from acute endometriosis, and it hurts her to have intercourse.

When they go to the movies, they take bacon and krispy kreme donuts. When they're apart, harry likes to read the dictionary, masturbate, drink alcohol, and fuck other women. He is currently fucking a publishing executive to get a promotion.

On the street, he occasionally encounters a homeless, teenage waif. He met her while reading books to her terminally ill brother. She is his conscience.

Davies peppers his novel with all types of tangential anecdotes, but the most absurd element of his tale seems unintentional. When Harry isn't making an ass of himself, he's doing the grunt work of an editorial assistant. This includes digging through the "slush pile," a collection of unsolicited manuscripts aspiring writers send to publishers. In a temporary flash of humanity, Harry pities "the slushies" and their dedication to a pipe dream. Such empathy might be endearing in a more accomplished novel but, in this context, it just feels smug.

Davies had a chance to prove himself with the publication of this book. Instead, he shot his wad as indiscriminately as his protagonist. This bloated novel would be right at home in a slush pile of its own.

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