June Bloom is a broke, cynical twenty-nine-year-old writer’s assistant on the late-night comedy show, Stay Up with Hugo Best. Hugo Best is in his sixties, a beloved icon of TV and humor, and a notorious womanizer. After he unexpectedly retires and a party is held for his now unemployed staff, June ends up at a dive bar for an open-mic night and prepares for the sad return to the anonymous comedian lifestyle. What she’s not prepared for is a run-in with Hugo at that dive bar. Nor for the invitation that swiftly follows: Hugo asks June to come to his mansion in Greenwich for the long Memorial Day weekend. “No funny business,” he insists.
June, in need of a job and money, confident she can handle herself, but secretly harboring the remains of a childhood crush on the charming older comedian and former role model, accepts. The exact terms of the visit are never spelled out, but June is realistic and clear-eyed enough to guess. Even so, as the weekend unfolds and the enigmatic Hugo gradually reveals himself, their dynamic proves to be much more complicated and less predictable than she expected.
I can’t say I’ve ever been quite so putt off and scowling while reading a book before. I kept getting involuntary shudders while reading Stay Up With Hugo Best. All of these weird odd feelings were very effective for the story.
I’m a bit confused because this was pitched as a humourous title but I did not find it funny. Nor did I find it had a dark humour vibe to it. It was such a melancholy read and really put me in a down mood for the rest of the day while reading it. The character seemed so lost and aimless and I am sure many people, regardless of whether they are a “milennial” or not can relate. Flawed characters and strange undertones fuel this story. If you like that angle definitely grab a copy for yourself.
This is a book for those of us who make choices that ultimately lead them to a “how did I get here” moment. This is a book for those of us who have experienced life and think to ourselves “well, let’s see where this will take me” or “I want to see how this ends”.
The writing is excellent and will definitely make you feel discombobulated. You have to be in a specific mood to read this one but I do recommend it for a completely different reading experience.