Christopher Beha‘s 2014 novel, Arts & Entertainments, tells of Eddie, a teacher of acting who never succeeded as an actor, although his comely lover, Martha, patently did. Eddie and Martha split up, and now Eddie, married to Susan, badly needs money. He acquires it by selling an erotic tape he made with famous Martha, lying to Susan about the source of the money. Discovering the truth, Susan throws Eddie out of their home, the entire mess surprisingly paving the way for a reality TV show.
Without bitterness Beha bluntly attacks today’s entertainment media as deeply deceptive vulgarity—exactly what the book’s reality show is. The debasing of identity (Eddie’s mostly) joins such elements in American society as ill-gotten gain and the foolish attraction to fame.
Arts & Entertainments is a palatable read. Critics have said it is funny; I didn’t find it so. But I did find it clever and meaningful. The novel is 272 pages long, and, true, by page 220, I got tired of it. Still, I’m glad it was written.