Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Get Real by Donald E. Westlake

In Get Real, a production company of reality TV shows decides to create a show about real life thieves. The ideas is that the cameras would follow the gang around doing whatever it is they do, including the planning and execution of a "job". While the producers try to maintain control, but they really have no idea what they've gotten themselves into. The gang have plans to complete the planned job for the show at the same time pulling another "unplanned" job right under the noses of the production company. There's one thing they agree one wants to go to jail.

I really liked this book. Westlake provides plenty of laughs, some pretty good twists, a great story line and tons of interesting and likeable characters. All in all the book was fun to read.

I loved the reality TV based storyline which the back of the book describes as including "some edgy social commentary". I don't watch much reality TV frankly because it doesn't interest me. Well, I'm not sure what even qualifies as "reality" anymore. There's just so much crap on TV these days. I don't watch shows like Survivor, Big Brother or the Amazing Race where real people (wannabe actors?) mostly do weird and/or stupid things for fame or cash. However, I have been known to tune into a few other shows which feature real people and may or may not quality as reality. Anyway, I loved the explanations about reality TV and how the production company takes reality and makes it entertainment (arguably).

As for characters, I especially loved the members of the gang, John (and his pessimistic attitude), Stan, Tiny as well as the others. They made me laugh out loud many times. I'm definitely going to look for more books featuring these guys.

My favourite quotes from the Advance Reading Copy edition, from page 80:
...reality shows do not solve society's problems. They don't even consider society's problems. Reality is escapist entertainment at its most pure and mindless

And from page 233:
If we use actors, then it's got to be a scripted show, so then we need writers, and all at once we're into unions and all kinds of other expenses and it prices us right out of the market. The whole point of reality shows is to give the networks a way to fill airtime on the cheap.

This is the first book I've read by Westlake and I'd love to read more. Unfortunately, Mr. Westlake has passed away, but there's a huge backlist waiting for me. I better get started.

Highly recommended. For those who love reality shows (really?), those who detest them and those who just want a really good book to read.

For more information about this book, please visit the Hachette Book Group website.

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