Anchor Books, Paperback, 9781400031979, 326pp.
Publication Date: July 13, 2004
Offering further evidence of his astounding range as a novelist, the bestselling author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and The Navigator of New York crafts a hilarious and moving paean to the dawn of the television age. Henry Prendergast grew up on television—not merely watching it, but starring in the wildly popular children’s show “Rumpus Room.” Cast in the roles of Bee Good and Bee Bad by his mother Audrey, the show’s creator, Henry came of age along with the new medium—one that would soon propel his family out Toronto’s middle-class life and into the tabloids.
Henry’s father Peter, a would-be novelist, refuses to have any part in his wife’s burgeoning television empire, but commits himself instead to the task of being a walking, talking—mostly scathing—reminder of the family’s “humble beginnings.” Then, on the heels of Rumpus Room, Audrey dreams up The Philo Farnsworth Show, loosely based on the life story of the young teen credited with inventing the tube and starring Henry in the lead role. Rapidly amassing a cult-like following of “Philosophers,” the show challenges the Prendergasts anew. Forced into increasing isolation by a fervent media, they must work harder than ever to not let success get the best of them.
“Wise, funny, touching.”— The Globe & Mail
“Funny, eccentric, and touching . . . [Human Amusements] leaves us nostalgic for a kinder, gentler, mediascape, and the life that went with it.”—The Toronto Star
“Wayne Johnston’s books are beautifully written, among the funniest I’ve ever read, yet somehow at the same time among the most poignant and moving.”—Annie Dillard
“This bittersweet novel touches the funny bone and the heart.”—The Edmonton Journal
“Charles Dickens would have greatly admired Johnston's style and humor–And the old master would have envied the vivid scenes Johnston draws.” –Houston Chronicle
“[Johnston is] a master plotter whose wise words sting and stab.”–Entertainment Weekly
“Wayne Johnston is a brilliant and accomplished writer.” –Annie Proulx
“One of our continent’s best writers.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Johnston is an accomplished storyteller, with a gift for both description and character, which he uses masterfully.”–Booklist (starred)
“Johnston [is] capable of fine psychological observation.…His backers ultimately get their money’s worth.”–Atlantic Monthly
“Johnston is an authentic comic genius.... His timing and pacing are impeccable. He knows how to...create laughter out of a wonderful mixture of emotions.” –The Gazette (Montreal)
“A prodigiously talented author.” –The Globe and Mail (Toronto)