Cover image for The ringer
The ringer
Scheft, Bill, 1957-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2002]

Physical Description:
248 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



Renowned humorist Bill Scheft stretches comedic singles into stand-up triples through the oddest of couples in this hilarious debut novel.

Morton Martin Spell, a once-brilliant, now-infirm seventy-five-year-old writer has begun to slide into a state of delirium. He thinks Mount Sinai Hospital is an exclusive golf course and his catheter is a gym bag. His only link to reality is his terminally unambitious thirty-five-year-old nephew, who makes his living as a hired gun for thirteen softball teams and still goes by the name College Boy.

But College Boy's body has begun to betray him -- almost as much as his lack of ambition. (His only legitimate paycheck comes from a once-a-week gig as an in-studio laugher on a drive-time morning radio show.) Not only that, The Dirt King, a small-time gangster who controls all the replacement soil in Central Park, is after him. As their lives collide, College Boy takes refuge in the arms of Sheila, his uncle's cleaning woman and a part-time call girl. And then it gets weird.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

There is rarely even a snicker is this supposedly comic first novel by a monologue writer for David Letterman. And therein lies the problem: stand-up comedy material can sound good when delivered by a professional, while that same material on the page of a novel will appear forced and lifeless. Harvey "College Boy" Sussman is the ringer of the title; he is a 35-year-old goof who gets paid to play softball for a dozen or so teams in and around New York City. As College Boy's athletic prowess diminishes and his fondness for prescription drugs increases, he has no clue what he will do after softball, though he also has a gig as a professional laugher on a call-in radio show. Morton Martin Spell is his uncle, a long-retired magazine writer who, as the story opens, is rushed to the hospital suffering the effects of a long relationship with vodka and Valium. There is something smarmy about the narration of the irrational ramblings of this old man zonked out on drugs (and as if that isn't enough, he is saddled with prostate problems, Parkinson's disease and serious overmedication by incompetent doctors), which take up most of the novel and are decidedly not funny. Scheft also introduces a whore with a heart of gold; a petty gangster, the Dirt King, who controls all dirt movement in Central Park; and a loud, obnoxious radio talk-show host. These New York extras are well conceived, but even they can't keep Scheft's tale from falling flat. (July) Forecast: A blurb from David Letterman should attract a few hardcore Letterman fans, but don't expect Late Night$size sales. Author appearances in Connecticut and New York. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved