Good People, by Steven K Meyers
A Snappy story with madcap characters and superb dialogue
Good People tells the story of Rex Black and the circle of his friends and employees who chase his dream of transforming his Upper East Side comedy club into a global brand. Fast and funny, incisive and heartfelt, Good People sums up, in the tradition of Theodore Dreiser, an entire American era of greed and unreal ambition.
Steven K. Meyers, born on a farm in western Colorado, became underbutler of Caramoor, the great Westchester County estate, at 17. Later he graduated from City College of New York (Ward Medal in Greek) and worked in the comedy club business at its 1980s height. He now lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
Review by Gerry Burnie
This has been a Steven K Meyers week. Between eye surgery and lab tests I read three different stories by this author; this one, i.e. Good People [Booklocker, 2010], plus Two Short Stories [to be published at a later date], e.g. “The Man Who Owns New York” and “Springtime in Siena.” Three quite different stories. I get the impression, therefore, that this writer writes as an academic exercise, and is not adverse to literary experimentation. But more about that later.
Good People is the most mainstream of the three, if “mainstream” can describe a story about a handful of eccentric (oddball) characters thrown together in a madcap scenario.
Hoping not to overlook any one of them we find Rex Black, a sleazy promoter trying to finagle an IPO—by hook or by crook—for a chain of comedy clubs á la “Catch a Rising Star,” which, according to Wikipedia – “[The] satiric novel, Good People, by Steven K. Meyers, captures the ethos of the original club in the 1980’s;” Michael, the long-suffering office manager—basically good but a little ‘shady’ himself, who is partnered in a more-or-less sexless relationship with Conor, a very talented general manager and sexual opportunist of the zip-ram-bam variety. On the distaff side we have Rosetta Stone (you just have to love that name!) who is clawing—and sucking—her way into becoming a headliner; Perri, Black’s worldly assistant—barfing every morning because she is pregnant, out of wedlock of course; and Ashley the wealthy heiress with the scatter-brained room mate, about whom she constantly complaining but refuses to boot out. These make up the principal cast.
I’ve left a few minor characters out, like Siggy the financial finagler, but you get the idea. These are all distinct and well developed; however, probably the most outstanding quality is the dialogue, which iscrisp and rapid fire.
The benefit of reading three different stories is that it gives me an overview of the author’s writing—not complete of course, but an overview nonetheless, and as I alluded above there is something academic about them all. The sentence and paragraph structure are textbook examples of the craft, and the plots are all cleaver, but there is also an academic absence of emotion. The characters interact, but for the most part it is an arm’s length relationship. The other quibble I have is regarding the switching of topics without notice, i.e. the topic is Michael, and the next paragraph is about Conor’s background.
Having said this, it’s a snappy story packed with wonderfully madcap characters and superb dialogue. Enthusiastically recommended. Four stars.
The reworked manuscript of Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky is now complete, and it should go to the publisher next week. To read an excerpt, click here.
That will allow me to get back to my new novel, The Brit, Kid Cupid, and Petunia. Here is the Story blurb, and if you are interested in reading an excerpt, it is posted on my blog: www.gerryburniebooks.wordpress.com
Young Charles Dempster Noseworthy was a charmingly-naïve Englishman who immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1860. Fortunately for posterity, he kept a personal journal of his adventures from the day he arrived, and later consolidated some fifty years of these entries into a manuscript that was never published; quite likely because of the forbidden sexual content.
When he eventually died in 1915 he willed his Alberta ranch, “Meftidy” (a derivative of mephitidae—the Latin classification for skunks) to a distant cousin in England. Unwilling to make the long journey to Canada, however, this cousin simply retained an agent to sell the ranch and all but a few of Charles’ personal possessions. Notice of this auction contained quite an extensive list of items for sale, including one described as “sundry books and papers to be offered as one parcel lot.”
One can only assume that the journals and manuscript were included in this lot, for these eventually ended up here in Ontario where I purchased them at the estate sale of an elderly Canadiana collector in the 1960s. Several journals were missing, but the manuscript was still in tact. It was apparent however that the references to homosexuality, which remained a criminal offense in Canada until 1971, made it almost impossible to publish even then. Because of this I set it aside with a vow that I would see it published one day as a tribute to Charles and his longtime lover, Jesse Arnold Ketchum—a.k.a. “Kid Cupid.”
The third character in The Brit, Kid Cupid, and Petunia is a charming little miss of the mephitidae family, i.e. “Petunia the skunk.” Watch for it.
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