by MC Schmidt
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Pub Date 26 May 2022 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2022
Phil Ochs has his troubles. His adult son is a failed artist who’s targeting him in a terroristic poetry campaign, his wife has developed an addiction to As Seen On TV gadgets, and a professional rival is poaching managers from his seventeen Fry Buddy fast food franchises.
Worst of all, Phil is a southern conservative who shares a name with a famous liberal folksinger. It’s this lifelong association, he believes, that’s denied him the respect he’s always craved. Who could take him seriously, after all, when his name evokes thoughts of that radical hippie tree-hugger?
When he loses a coveted business award to a producer of testicular implants for neutered pets, Phil is finally through being disrespected. He devises a scheme that’s certain to bring him notoriety. Whether that means becoming a figure of admiration or of national hatred will all depend on how well he conceals the more depraved elements of his plan.
The Decadents is a darkly satiric novel featuring a cast of characters who are unique and unforgettable.
A Note From the Publisher
Book is going through final round of edits, to be complete by the end of January, 2022
- Short print run + POD availability
- Author tour via Barnes and Noble.
- Virtual tour and physical, in store book signings.
- Publicity campaign / Radio / TV
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 36 members
by MC Schmidt
The Decadents is a darkly satirical novel featuring a cast of characters who are unique and unforgettable. I LOVED this book so much. I laughed at Phil Ochs and his family until tears and waking my husband could not stop me. What a great book, MC Schmidt is one great writer! I will buy many copies of The Decadents when it comes out for sale.
Thank you, NetGalley and MC Schmidt the honor of laughing and finding just the right one.Best of this year for humor.
This book was a true delight and provided a combination of satire and humor that made me chuckle several times. Almost all the characters are lovable with all their flaws, Phil Ochs with his political ambitions, Lillian with her fondness for home gadget purchases and phone chat with the rep from As seen on TV, and of course, their son David Samuel "with all his oddness and flourish for words" and "South Carolina's most dramatic little twit". I look forward to reading more by this author. Thank you, NetGalley and MC Schmidt for this amazing book. I am going to read this again to enjoy it one more time!
I just love this book so much! Cannot recommend it enough! My first to read by this author but definitely not my last!
This is a deliciously fun read! I love all the funny flawed characters, and the authors sense of humor throughout!
'The Decadents' is a darkly humorous tale about backward family dynamics and a derailing political campaign. Comprised mainly of two connected narratives, one being the terse relationship between Phil and his son, David Samuel, and the other Phil's dubious political drive, the novel dips in and out of comedy to stretch and strain the moral limits of the titular decadents.
The story makes an undeniably strong first impression. With a raucously funny exchange between father and son, and the ensuing presentation of David Samuel's eccentric character, we could even say that 'The Decadents' tricks its readers into assuming that the same absurd, jovial humor will persist throughout.
Instead, this lightness deteriorates more and more with every page, until an overall sense of horror begins to outweigh the initial delight. Still, Schmidt never misses an opportunity to insert an amusing thought or interaction into the otherwise somber dealings, such as a "bitchy" cat presumed capable of devouring a corpse before it could ever be discovered. The deeper we delve into the plot, the more surprising and welcome these interjections appear.
One of the novel's highlights is its sharp, rapid-fire dialogue. The uniqueness of each of the characters' way of talking also adds polish to Schmidt's writing. In particular, it's David Samuel's elevated and highly overdramatic speech that serves as a sort of punch line to anything that is said within his vicinity.
And it's his romanticized conflict with his father that is arguably the most comedic and engaging element of the story. That may be because some of the most inventive descriptions never leave David Samuel's shadow. For example, "his body was a thousand dogs in silky blankets all moving in different directions", as well as Phil's memorable depiction of his son's appearance to his future attacker.
Sadly, after making a shining debut in the first part of the story, the son is delegated to the margins. Instead of acclimating to David Samuel's snark and sass, two-thirds of the novel focus on fleshing out Phil's political aspirations, accommodating all the folly and tediousness that this entails. But seeing as Phil is declared a detestable character by all the people he interacts with, and likely the majority of the readers, this change of direction sucks most of the momentum out of the novel. As a result, though connected, the two plotlines create enough forks in the narrative to give us the impression that we're reading two separate stories.
Perhaps the split wouldn't be as jarring if the political component didn't introduce an entirely new character, Eddie Ellis. Though his presence is later justified, Eddie's own family drama naturally takes away from the attention that could be paid to some of the other neon figures that pop in and out of the story, and whom we are led to care about a great deal more. All the loose ends are tied in the end, but this doesn't change the fact that for most of the novel, we're led to believe that one crucial storyline has been regretfully abandoned.
Most notably, there is very little humor in Eddie's life, and its lack bleeds into the storyline. All thoughts of the comedy promised by the first few chapters of 'The Decadents' flee, and we're left with an accountant of one bleak character's downfall. As the title suggests, the characters are at the forefront of the story, and their personalities inevitably dictate our level of engagement.
Nevertheless, there are some truly uproarious moments, ones that pull full-bodied laughs and induce cramps, and a few more comedic scenes sprinkled throughout. Most importantly, Schmidt's prose is quick-witted and highly intelligent, and leaves you excited for more.
The novel is an American satire about Phil Ochs, an old republican fast food chain-owner from South Carolina. Plagued by "lack of respect" from the business community and a "weirdo" son who is into poetry, theatre, and the finer things of life that Phil thinks are signs of weakness, he sets out to teach his son a lesson, and to run for the South Carolina Senate against a sure-shot Democratic winner. However, he ends up underestimating all the people he uses to accomplish his missions, and ends up getting very different results than he had hoped for.
This book was a surprise read. While the humour was not really to my taste (far too niche American for a person in a different country to appreciate), the story really started to build up at around 30% of the novel. The characters did initially seem cartoonish (and to some extent remain so until the end), their motivations become clearer in the second act, and that's when the reader can begin to sympathize with them, pathetic and flawed as they are. I personally ended up liking almost all the characters, except perhaps Phil Ochs, whose arc is the least developed of them all. In a sense, he doesn't grow, although everyone else around him does.
Overall, an entertaining read. Will recommend to anyone looking for some lighthearted fun (and has some idea of American culture and politics).
Thank you to NetGalley and Library Tales for the advance electronic galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Decadents is the story of Phil Ochs, a Southern Republican fast food king, and how he comes to run for state senate. It is also the story of his family, who seem to put the fun in dysfunctional. His son, David Samuel is a would-be artist and poet. His wife, Lillian, lives for “as seen on TV” merchandise, which she discusses at length with the telephone salespeople.
In an effort to turn his son into the man he would like him to be, Phil hatches a…rather unusual plan. As to how that plan turns out—it may depend on which character you ask!
This novel is described as “darkly satiric”. I think that’s accurate. Think Augusten Burroughs. I liked satire a lot more when I was younger—before I saw how close to the mark it often hit. That being said, I found the book to be extremely readable—I finished it quickly—and I really did enjoy many of the characters!
My first to read by this author but definitely not my last! I love all the funny flawed characters but truly enojoyed the authors satirical humor. The plot was a slow pick up but once it did I couldn’t put it down. If you liked Schitts creek you’ll love this book.
I try not to look at reviews before I write mine, but I slipped a bit on this one. Most reviewers, myself included, could easily summarize this book as “darkly humorous,” which would be true. The first scene shows the MC, Phil Ochs, at work in one of his many fast food franchises. He takes a call from his son, David Samuel, who is threatening suicide by throwing himself off the roof. Phil advises his son to aim for the neighbor’s yard. A scene like that will get my attention and set off my “wth?” meter, and it for sure will keep me reading.
Here’s the blurb: Phil Ochs is a successful fast food franchisee who despairs of ever achieving the community recognition he feels he deserves, particularly with an odd, poetic son that he despises. In an effort to force his son to grow up, Phil hires a local high school kid to assault David Samuel (who, I need to point out, is twenty three years old). Without discussing it with his wife, Phil decides to run for a local Senate seat at which point we meet Eddie, a washed up, heavy drinking campaign manager whose wife has left him for their (female) attorney. In an attempt to get his career back on track, Eddie convinces Phil to hire him to navigate the election, with no idea that Phil is unelectable.
I saw satire bandied about in a lot of other reviews, as well as consternation that the humor in the first chapters didn’t continue throughout the book. While I’m not sure about the satire, I do agree with the humor – I laughed less after the first few chapters. However, I think a lot of reviewers missed something that screamed out at me – this book is about characters lacking self-esteem and how they go about finding it. Phil needs community recognition, David Samuel needs his father’s recognition, Eddie needs to figure out how to navigate life without his family, Colin needs to reclaim his self-confidence after accepting a bribe to beat up David Samuel, and Lillian (Phil’s wife) just needs someone to talk to; (she finds a captive listener with the Made for TV customer service rep.)
While the book touched on some dark places, it was funny and ended on a hopeful note. Although none of the characters found themselves where they thought they’d be at the end, I think they found what they needed.
I rated this book 3.5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+
I’d like to thank NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for making the ARC copy available and I’ve left this review honestly and voluntarily.
Thank you to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for this Advanced Reader Copy, in exchange for my honest review.
I was not sure what to expect from this book. The book started off as a quirky story about a family. The story of Phil, a fast-food franchisee, and his complicated relationship with his son David Samuel. I enjoyed the dark, sarcastic story and it gave a bit of a Wes Anderson film vibe. The book seems to take a turn in the later 2/3 of the book when Phil decides to run for state senate and enter Eddie, a wannabe campaign manager. I found the political aspirations to take away from the dysfunctional family story.
None of the characters are particularly likeable, which makes the story kind of interesting. The dark humor or satire is not for everyone. I actually liked the weird relationship between Phil's wife, Lillian, and her customer service rep, Raj.
If you like quirky, this is the book for you.
The Decadents by MC Schmidt, is a darkly humorous, satirical, oddball tale focused around a deplorable person named Phil Ochs. Phil is a conservative fast food franchise magnate from South Carolina. And he has problems! One of them hooks you right into the story, as his son David Samuel calls him at work to inform his father that he's on the roof of the family home, and is going to jump. Phil's response, after his trademark "Creeping Jesus!", is to utter a few lines that set the tone for the character and are guaranteed to make you laugh.
As deplorable as Phil himself is and even with the horrible stuff he does, you can see someone you know within him. It's the same with all the characters -- they're recognizable.. Schmidt has done a fine job with writing people whom you can care about even as you laugh at their foibles and shake your head over the zany and ridiculous things they get up to in the story. They all have traits that we can see every day in others around us. Maybe even in ourselves. All of them seem to be searching for some sort of validation too, where ever they may find it. Like Phil's wife Lillian with her room full of "As See On T.V.!" kitchen gadgets (even a corn dog fryer)., and her almost counseling session-like phone calls to Raj at the sales center for her gadgets. Having worked a phone center at one point, I laughed until I almost cried at Raj's response to Lillian's calls.. The author nails some of the confessional types of interactions phone agents get stuck dealing with, with deadly accuracy.
I was a little thrown by the addition of Phil's political consultant, who's story line seemed not humorous, but he still fit in overall with the general story. And he fit with the theme I saw of people looking for someone to say "You're appreciated!" He served a purpose, definitely. But he did slow the story down quite a bit at some points.
Overall, I found myself happy with the book. It did make me laugh. I did wind up interrupting my husband's reading several times so I could read bits aloud to him. The only thing I did not enjoy was the character of Phil's friend with the speech impediment. I know Phil would call me a Snowflake but I don't find punching down funny. Fortunately it was a couple of brief appearances. And Phil himself does admire the man for his refusal to stay away from the tough words (as Phil says).
I'd definitely recommend The Decadents to anyone looking for a laugh, who enjoys satirical and/or dark humor. It's a fast, funny read with a side order of ridiculousness. Imagine Fawlty Towers in the small towns of South Carolina with a strongly Conservative bent. And it was fun to read about where I live too. It definitely hit close to home in many ways. Thank you to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for the DRM copy of The Decadents in exchange for my honest review.
I really enjoyed this book and found it to be really amusing, I liked that the characters were so quirky and just odd in the best possible way. The main character Phil is going through a mid-life crisis of sorts and is trying to find a way to make his legacy and to find a way to improve his relationship with his son and to give him a path moving forward. At the same time, the people that surround him are trying to either support, or mess with him. "Creeping Jesus" this was the perfect blend of dark comedy and satire that I just did not know I needed to read. I want to read more from this author in the future. Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.
I enjoyed this. Zingy, sharp satire. It reminds me of A Confederacy of Dunces.
I could see this being made into an idependent film, that eventually gains cult status. Not to take away from the book, I am definitely going to seek out other work from this author now, and hope that he writes more novels.
Thank you to NetGalley, who gave me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This story felt a little bit like an extended episode of Seinfeld. The main difference being Jerry and Newman are father and son. It was an enjoyable read even though the characters themselves are not the most likable. It reads quickly and has some very funny moments. They story comes full circle and wraps up all loose ends.
I tried to love this book, I really did. So many quirky, interesting characters that had many parallels to flawed Tom Perrotta characters...I love the cover and the description... but I could not follow through. It's a fun, light read, if you take the political context out of it completely, you may open your readership to many others.
This book was a darkly funny political satire and I really enjoyed it. It took me a little while to get into the story but the author is very clever and I really appreciated the humor. David Samuel, Lillian, and Eddie stole the show and ended up being the kind of quirky characters that you love without really understand why.
Interesting book. Interesting characters. Decent pacing. Decent storyline. Relatively easy to follow along and know characters motivations and wants.
Phil Ochs is the founder and owner of Fry Buddies, a fast food franchise, and he has high aspirations - which are clearly not going to be met, that much is pretty clear to the reader right off the batch.
Besides trouble on the business front, he also has a son he thinks of as wimpy and a problem. And maybe their relationship isn't the easiest. But you know what?
"He's a pancake."
-- Phil about his son
David Samuel is the far more likeable character. He might be a troubled young man, but he has a sharp wit and keen sense of intellect. He's also part of the most hilarious dialogues of this novel, some kind of satirical sharp shooter.
The dialogues - this is where The Decadents stands out. Quick witted, really funny dialogues and a whole bunch of side characters that are reminiscent of the best of Philip K. Dick's characters. At those times, Schmidt's narrative shines like a bright new LED bulb in a dark and damp basement.
Sadly, the best dialogues are in the presence of David Samuel, and he's only around for the first third of the book. Well, no, he's also there for the rest of the book, we just don't see much of him anymore. And that's a pity.
Reading this book is like reading two books, really. A small one - the first third - that is kind of light-hearted, goofy, sarcastic and full of snark. It's a great story.
The second book - the last two thirds - is a bleak tale of political grandeur and the downfall of a man. It's not what the first third promises, although it could have been, if those parts of the cast that were likeable had played a greater part. See the fall of Philip Ochs through the eyes of his son, complemented with sassy remarks - there is a whole world of entertainment lost right there.
In the end, this is a very mixed bag. 2 stars for the last two thirds, 5 for the first third, let's call it a 3. The middle ranking, and we all know - in the middle of the road, there's just a white line and a dead skunk.
And the carcass of a story that could have been so much more.
Disclaimer: I've received a free Advanced Reader's Copy and am leaving this review voluntarily.
The very definition of a non standard family
“The Decadents” is the story of a family who are the very definition of nonstandard. They are absurdly “unusual” people and never anything close to normal. They walk the razor edge between insanity and absurdity, the edge between ludicrously and inappropriateness, and yet they are absurdly funny. They are the “regular’ people one would expect to see on one of “those” TV talk shows. They live in some black and white bazaar sitcom world set in an alternate universe; a mash up of “Wanda Vision,” “Happy Days,” and “Breaking Bad” with a rabbit and a notebook.
Phil Ochs is a successful fast food restaurant regional franchisee. He wants to be the Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Entrepreneur, but he is distracted by thoughts of vague calamities befalling his professional rivals. Son, David Samuel, is twenty-three. (He is always referred to by two names as if there might be a solitary Samuel or David hanging around writing poems and filling a sketch book to confuse people.) He says he is jumping off the roof because he needs to go to a good school. Lillian Ochs attends the women’s club meetings and eats room temperature pasta in white gloves and a pioneer skirt. She uses a “Miracle dusting mitt” on their dead (and stuffed) pet rabbit, Bernie. She is unhappy with the mitt’s performance so she calls customer service to complain. Of course, there is always a way to restore Bernie with the correct “Miracle” product.
The characters are like encountering a car wreck on the freeway, you just cannot look away. They do not pretend to be normal; they are their own normal. They are sustained by the belief that each one has outwitted the others through his or her subtle deployment and cunning. In the end, they may be saved by a breaded fish sandwich, corn on the cob, and a personalized parking space.
I received a review copy of “The Decadents” from M.C. Schmidt and Library Tales Publishing.
The book is quick to read if you do not count the time laughing and shaking your head in astonishment.
“The Decadents” is now available in print, and as an e-book from independent bookstores, online booksellers, retail stores, public libraries and anywhere you get your books.
This was every bit as funny as the premise promised. Oh my gosh, this was such a delight. Phil Ochs is my spirit animal from today on. His political ambitions, their odd ball son and Lillians phone chats with reps just had me howling.
My favorite part is that its dark funny, my favorite type of humor. I laughed so hard at so many times in the book liquids were confiscated from me.
This was such a nice distraction, and really makes you forget about reality as you journey with Phil to finally get the the respect he deserves without being associated with a radical, liberal tree hugging folksinger.
How to start? The Decadents is a bizarrely engaging book about ambition, what success looks like when you're the owner of seventeen "Fry Boy" franchises -- which is a lot in the mind of Phil Ochs, but not so much in the eyes of the local Chamber of Commerce that gives a prize he dearly covets to the entrepreneurs who created fake dog testicles for neutered dogs. Here in 2022, I consider it a deep inside joke that many will not fully comprehend that the character in The Decadents Phil Ochs, a dyed in the wool Republican, hates his name. This is because a very famous protest singer songwriter of the sixties and seventies made that name famous. I lustily sang some of his songs and bought the whole collection sometime shortly after the other Phil Ochs died, a suicide, at thirty-five. That Phil Ochs was authentic, issue driven, and a hell of a writer.
Our Phil Ochs in The Decadents is something of a blowhard with no particular moral compass.. His twenty-three year old son, David Samuel, doesn't appreciate the opportunities he's had because of his father's fast food success. He wants to be a taxidermist. He is already a somewhat creepy-crawly poet who illustrates poems about hating his father and leaves them about for him to find. Phil wants David Samuel to do something more conventional with an eye to financial success, finally settling on his becoming a Fry Buddy Store manager. But first, he has to break David Samuel, because this defiant young man persists in his artistic dreams, demanding to be sent to taxidermy school. So Phil pays a star athlete at the high school to beat up his son and then speeds up his progress toward manager in the business. There's some "make a man out of him" rationale going on there. Soon, Phil's need for attention/success turns to running in a special election for the state Senate, acquiring an campaign managers that's actually experienced, but down on his luck, runs a campaign having nothing to do with issues or politics, and from time to time connecting with his wife Lillian, who has always been there for him.
Meanwhile, the campaign manager Eddie Ellis, adds a side story to the questions about success, having long been out the the campaign business and consigned to the freight brokerage business, something of a failure whose wife left him for a female lawyer, taking their daughter along. So they all end up interconnecting, into one heck of an amusing political race, complete with ads by the opponent about all of Phil's former managers who jumped ship with lots of stories to tell of his abuse. There's a contest to give Phil a middle name, to rid him of the hated Phil Ochs moniker, interspersed with days spent at Fry Buddy where the Goth-like, odd, David Samuel is suddenly good at what he's doing. And of course we know something David Samual doesn't: That he got beaten up by kids hired by his father, something hanging over the campaign. I laughed out loud enough to count this a funny book along with a number of broad smiles and sly smirks. Very satisfying satire.
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