SHOW UP, LOOK GOOD – “A Must Read for 2012”

September 11, 2011

Show Up, Look Good by Mark Wisniewski

Gival Press, 2011

224 pages, $20

      This book reminds me of Catcher in the Rye. Oh, there are some differences. The narrator is a 34 year-old woman from Kankakee, IL, who has gone to “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” New York City. But there is this connection, we, as readers, have with her that at an earlier age I had with Holden Caulfield. To be honest I don’t even remember much of Catcher in the Rye, except the carousel scene and Caulfield’s dismay at some “Fuck You” graffiti. And the book’s honesty in a superficial world;…it was me knocking around NYC not some literary character.

     Show Up, Look Good starts out slow and, in some way, we wonder if a male author can really express how a middle aged woman feels. But Wisniewski is a great story teller and once we face the adventurous choices Miriam does in finding apartments, we are hooked. If you up and dropped everything and went to Manhattan, this is what its real world would be like. We turn the page to find out what happens, not to her, but to us.

Let me add one more thing. Show Up, Look Good has an ending to die for. It is so surprising, yet so moving it will take your breath away. It seems to come out of nowhere but fits the father-daughter subtext so well and is emotionally so right that even literary classics should be jealous. Wow! It is one of the best book endings I have ever read (and I am writing this a week after finishing the book).

Well now, going back to the first chapter, I think its beginning is really much better than I initially thought; and I really should go back and read Catcher in the Rye.


  1. Do you only review recent publications? I have a book of connected stories called These Precious Hours that was published last year. I also write reviews.


    Michael Corrigan

    • No, I review older books. My concern is that they attract readers to the site and once in a while I will slip in one that is just a good read. You are free to send a copy to me to look at and consider for a review: John Lehman, 315 Water St, Cambridge WI 53523.

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