The Dumps 

Breaking up is hard to do? Yes and no. Call 617-55-LEAVE.

You've heard it said (if you're the one being dumped), or you've said it yourself (if you're the one doing the dumping): "It's not you, it's me." (Translation: "It is definitely, without a doubt, one hundred percent you.")

Or: "I want my space." (Translation: "I want to sleep around.")

Or: "We're better off as friends." (Translation: "The thought of having sex with you turns my stomach.")

Or: "I used to think you were The One; now I'm not so sure." (Translation: "You weren't this fat when we started dating.")

But: "This hurts me as much as it hurts you." (No, it does not, because: "My pain ends after this conversation; your pain lives on forever.")

Take it from Danielle Myers. The above five statements (backed by the truer words never spoken) are among the 10 biggest breakup lines in the book -- the book being Memphian Johanna Edwards' new comic novel, Your Big Break (Berkley), and Your Big Break Inc. (motto: "It's not you, it's us!") being the business of breaking up that Dani, "communications specialist," is in.

But a mess is what she gets into because of company rule #5: "Do not get personally involved. This is the cardinal rule and must be followed above all others!"

It's a rule that was easy enough for Dani (age 28, unmarried, a product herself of the dumping ground) to follow in the past but not so easy for her to follow once Gretchen Monaghan (age 35) walks into the Boston office of Your Big Break and pays to have Dani tell Gretchen's middle-aged, two-timing boyfriend to get lost. Turns out, the guy's not only not separated from his wife, he's a financial analyst (like Dani's father), he works for Merriwether Payne Investments (like Dani's father), and he's ... you guessed it. So does Dani, in no time. But this is not her only problem, just the biggest. The next biggest: her mother's affair with a yoga instructor. And next biggest: her crush on an attorney turned teacher/poet, who's being dumped by a Beacon Hill bombshell. And so on.

And on, until it's clear: Edwards is back in fine comic form after last year's debut novel, The Next Big Thing. Your Big Break: Call it a (heart-breaking) comedy of (very bad) manners.

Johanna Edwards will read from and sign copies of Your Big Break at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on Wednesday, March 8th, at 6 p.m.

Breaking up is bad enough. What could be worse? You could be Stephen Donato, America's biggest action-movie heartthrob (and closet case) up for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, and you've been caught on a massage table inside a Beverly Hills spa that's doubling as a gay brothel run by a she-devil named Moira Finch.

And the Oscar goes to ... correction: A living, breathing "Oscar" went "at" Stephen during the course of the "massage," a (hidden) camera was watching, and now it's up to Philip Cavanaugh, who happened to be hiding under the massage table, to get hold of the video and save Stephen's marriage (to Gina, a clueless actress), save Stephen's career (from instant tabloid bonanza), and save Stephen (for himself).

Fat chance, but still: Philip's already acting as a ghostwriter for Stephen's out-of-it actress aunt, Lily, who's penning a family tell-all. And Philip's also writing a screenplay with his ex-boyfriend Gilbert (who used to be married to Moira) along with the boys' best friend, Claire. That movie is slated to star Stephen and his actress mother, Diana, who despises Lily (always has) and their former child star and very openly gay brother, Monty. But the screenwriters are operating under two pretenses: A) Lily mustn't know what Diana knows: Philip's working to sabotage Lily's book; and B) Stephen's agent mustn't know that the script Gilbert submitted as evidence of the trio's talent is, in fact, Casablanca, which the agent is too stupid to even recognize.

Complicated? Ridiculous? I'm skimming the surface of My Lucky Star (Little, Brown) by Joe Keenan, an Emmy Award winning writer for Frasier and with this novel the author of the silliest, smartest, fastest-moving Hollywood sendup maybe ever. Have at it before your own night in March with "Oscar."



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