‘Talk to Me’ draws from real life

The view from above was stunning.

The cliché says that people look like ants when you’re looking down from a ledge, and they do. Trees look like the lint you’d pick off a sweater, and it seems like you could reach out and grab a cloud. It’s humbling and powerful, but in the new novel “Talk to Me” by John Kenney, it’s a long way down from any height.

Ted Grayson was falling.

He’d hired the instructor just hours ago, gotten a quick lesson on skydiving, and he’d been pushed out of the plane, just like in the movies. The instructor assured Ted that he’d survive this experience. Thing was, Ted didn’t want to.

It all started on his birthday, didn’t it? Or was it when his daughter, Frannie, was a teenager and had rebelled, as teenagers do? No, the beginning of the end was when Ted let his marriage slowly die, he’d stopped coming home after the last newscast, he lost interest in his wife, and Claire met someone else. Someone, she so harshly pointed out, who was “happy.”

But his birthday was the cherry on the sundae. Ted was in “a mood,” wrapping up the last story of the night when one thing led to another and another and he exploded, calling the temporary make-up girl something vile. It wasn’t on-camera — he was too professional for that — but on video and then, to his befuddled regret, online. Suddenly, Ted Grayson, news anchor to millions, was Ted Grayson, internet fool.

And don’t think he didn’t apologize. He did, but the ridicule expanded upon itself when someone dug up an ancient clip of a battle-hardened soldier insulting Ted. The station was inundated with protesters and calls for Ted’s firing. Women’s groups were incensed. Then Frannie wrote a scathing story about her father and though it wasn’t her intention, the story went viral.

And so, in more ways than one, Ted Grayson was falling…

If ever there was a book plucked from real life, “Talk to Me” is it.

Beginning with a miserable last-ditch aim at suicide, author John Kenney tells a blunt, hilariously nuanced but devastatingly emotional tale of the age of internet and instant news, when the past isn’t past and one dasn’t become outdated on what could happen online. It’s altogether too easy to see yourself in this novel, in other words, and that’s like a gut-punch.

And yet, you’ll laugh because Kenney is profane, with a biting, spit-out-your-coffee kind of wit that underscores the pathos and irony of it all. Indeed, Ted is nasty, but so is what happened to him and Schadenfreude weeps from each page. You’ll see it, especially if you’ve ever snorted at someone else’s gaffe.

But again, the reality sets in. We could be Ted. Ted is us.

What a novel.

Readers who relish a little snark with their story will love this one, as will those who enjoy tattletale videos and gossip mags. “Talk to Me” will make you think, and you won’t want to put it down.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Highline student finds her voice

Umoja Black Scholars Program enhances the cultural and educational experiences of African-American students.

Multi-Service Center raises $156,000 at annual Crab Feed

Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center raised funds to support its programs at its annual Crab Feed on June 1.

Auburn Symphony Orchestra announces 2020-21 season

Begins with Summer Series scheduled to start June 21

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

Federal Way mother and daughter spread Easter cheer with bunny visits

Maggie and Marianna Cante Tinza visited more than 40 neighborhoods in Federal Way, Auburn, Puyallup and Tacoma on Sunday, April 12.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Auburn dance studio finds creative solutions to keep going during COVID-19

Pacific Ballroom Dance moves to online classes; group returned home early from national competition

‘Let There Be Love’ in Federal Way

Centerstage presents the first fully-staged production of the play at the Knutzen Family Theater.

Centerstage presents: ‘Let There Be Love’

The show opens Friday, Jan. 31 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 23.

Turkeys Nonni, Noelle, November and Nora at Rooster Haus Rescue in Fall City. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Turkey rescue: No bird on Thanksgiving menu at this King County sanctuary

“There’s a huge need for roosters. They often end up neglected and abused.”

Vote now for Best Adult In-Home Care

Vote for your favorite Federal Way restaurants, businesses, community leaders and more.

Christmas with the Nelsons coming to Federal Way Nov. 23

The Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center brings Christmas to the city.