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Attack of the Theater People (Edward Zanni #2)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  961 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
It is 1986, and aspiring actor Edward Zanni has been kicked out of drama school for being “too jazz hands for Juilliard.” Mortified, Edward heads out into the wonderland of eighties New York City and finally lands a job as a “party motivator” who gets thirteen-year-olds to dance at bar mitzvahs and charms business people as a “stealth guest” at corporate events. When he ac ...more
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published April 28th 2008 by Recorded Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Nikki Boisture
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who love How I Paid for College!
This book is a sequel to "How I Paid for College: a Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater," which was a book I LOVED. I was so excited that Marc Acito was bringing back the cast of that book. I wish Goodreads had half stars, because I'd give it three and a half.

Don't get me wrong, the book was good. It just wasn't as effortlessly good as "How I Paid for College." Everything had an air of being forced. Paula seemed a little too theatrical, Natie was a little too unscrupulous, Doug
Aaron Coleman
Jan 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
Geesh, did I hate this book. I couldn't even finish it, and I rarely, if ever, stop a book.

Because I am a big Manhattan theatre nerd, a friend of mine gave me the book, thinking I'd enjoy its theatre-centric hijinks. However, I found it cliched and forced. As a man well into my 30s, the "wacky antics" of a group of self-important early 20-somethings failed to amuse, even on a nostalgic level. The protagonist finds himself on a series of New York adventures that grow more contrived and preposter
Nov 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Fiction. Edward Zanni gets kicked out of Juilliard, but he's still got to pay the rent. Almost a caper novel, but not quite tight enough to qualify; it's a sequel to How I Paid for College, and maybe that's why the characters aren't developed at all. Or maybe they were always this shallow. It's been a while since I read the first book so I can't say for sure. The real draw here is the writing, which is playful and smart. Unfortunately it can also be over the top and in poor taste. The characters ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Acito's follow up to "How I Paid For College". Very cute. It may not change your life, but it may change your mood for the better. One morning I actually spaced off my bus stop b/c I was in the middle of one of their capers.
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
So I picked this up purely for the goofy title - I didn't even know it was a sequel. And, in general, I like a good caper story. The fact that it was about theatre people just seemed like a novelty. But I have to admit, I was delightfully surprised. It actually was a fun caper story, with our leading guy not getting any breaks. But it also has moments of touching on why it is I love the theatre, about its transcendental power, and the people who would turn it into a profit-making machine or thos ...more
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

I read the first in this series (How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater) in 2009 while we were at our beloved Sylvia Beach Hotel. In that book, Acito tells the story of Edward Zanni, who is so desperate to go to Juilliard that he and his friends--mostly theater people--resort to embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail to help him achieve his goals. It's over the top madcap farce with a
Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cant-finish
The cover is a beautifully and brilliantly painted homage to 80s Fantastic. The premise is also very interesting - about a young man who was kicked out of school because he is 'too jazz hands for Julliard'. It's also written by some guy that apparently worked/s at NPR. (This would be a selling point for me. I love NPR, and the books the recommend tend to interesting for me.) Supposedly there will be wacky and wild shenanigans about embezzlement, hot men, corporate espionage and finding oneself. ...more
Acito is the funniest writer I've encountered in years, and I just can't get enough of him. (Maybe I should move to Portland?) This is the sequel to How I Paid for College, and it opens with Edward Zanni getting kicked out of Juilliard for being "too jazz hands." Out of money and out of work in NY, Edward lands a gig as a party motivator, getting 13 year olds to hit the dance floor at "bash mitzvahs," which OF COURSE leads to being a corporate spy, a little run-in with the SEC for insider traini ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
This book was disappointing. I thought for sure that any book about a person kicked out of Julliard for being too "jazz hands" was sure to be roaringly funny. While there were some great one liners - and the description of Hands Across America and Starlight Express were priceless - the plot was stale and I didn't care about the characters. At all. In fact, I found myself distracted by their stupidity. While the characters were meant to be stereotypes of typical theater people (and in a way I rea ...more
Carrie Runnals
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved Attack of the Theater People ~ Marc's talent and ability to weave humor throughout each scene is a rare gift. On more than one occassion I embarrassed myself while reading in public places--with bursts of laughter ~ once, even causing seltzer water up and through my nasal passages ~ YEOW! But even more fun? ...

Talking to Marc for my author inteview show at I'm almost done editing the show and will post it after my interview with William P. Young--T
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This follow-up to Acito's How I Paid For College is in the same fast-paced, jazz hands tradition of the first. Having been kicked out of Julliard, Eddie Zanni falls on hard times and must resort to Bar Mitzvah entertainment and ushering to make ends meet. Unwisely he lets himself be convinced to schmooze business secrets from partygoers in exchange for cash and allows his friend Natie to "invest" some of his money. Soon he finds himself under investigation and only the wildest acting by his ecle ...more
Initially, I was excited to read this book because I enjoyed the first one so much, but I was a little disappointed in the end. At times, it was very funny with some sophomoric humor (that I actually appreciated). It dragged a little at the end, and felt like the author was trying a little too hard.
Ted Gideonse
Zippy and cute, but not as fresh or well constructed as Acito's first book. I think this one was over thought and over edited...
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the only books (besides the other one in this series) I've read that truly reads like an 80's teen adventure movie. To fully enjoy this book you need to love theater, believe in magic, and have a little suspension of disbelief.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I am so, so glad I had this book with me on a particularly nervewracking business trip I had to survive last month. It's perfect for those times when you need a laugh, but at the same time need to read about someone with problems far worse than yours. And Edward Zanni, aspiring actor and man of a hundred pseudonyms and just about as many bizarre jobs, certainly has his share of problems. This book felt unorganized in places, but the voice and humor carry the story, and it's always fun when one o ...more
Aug 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-fiction
The hilarious sequel to How I Paid For College: A Novel Of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater. It’s hysterical at times but you must, must, must read the other book first if you want to really get as much out of all the marvelous characters. It’s the 1980s and narrator, Edward Zanni has been thrown out of Julliard drama school for being too… dramatic and not, well, real enough. (His audition scene from the first book is a riot.) The books follows him as he ambles through a series of in ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As someone who’s worked and grown up surrounded by theatre types, I thought Marc Acito’s Attack of the Theatre People, in which someone is kicked out of Juilliard for being “too jazz hands”, would make for a hilarious read. And it can, if, and I mean pretty much only if, you are willing to accept it for all its cliche and contrived events. This isn’t a believable novel by any means; characters appear coincidentally in the same places and it’s littered with cheesy one liners. The result is what f ...more
this is the sequel to that book i raved about a few months back, How I Paid for College. and i cracked this one open expecting to rave just as much about it. in many ways it's just as good as HIPFC; the plot is just as twisted, the cast of characters just as crazy (in that way where it's so insane you know the author has to know people like this in real life-- you just can't make some of this shit up), and i laughed just as much. but i didn't end up as satisfied at the end. i think because the p ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humour, gay, interest
sequel to 'How I Paid for College'. Having blackmailed his father into sending him to Juilliard, Edward Zanni shortly thereafter finds himself expelled for being 'too jazz hands'. Cast adrift in New York City with nothing but a dream and a group of friends that includes aspiring actors ranging from Marxist street theatre to swing in 'Starlight Express', an exiled Iranian aristocrat, a boy who plays Bruce Springsteen in an E-Street tribute band, a cross-dressing gay Vietnamese and Natie Nudelman, ...more
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really thankful to all of the people who posted reviews stating that they were disappointed in this book. They allowed me to go in with slightly lowered expectations, and let me enjoy this book a bunch. I'm thankful for having a chance to spend more time with these colorful characters and frequent musical theater jokes.

My only qualm with this book was the author's handling of AIDS. It kind of feels tacked on, like he wrote the story, someone pointed out that any story featuring a gay man se
This book picks up where Marc Acito's previous novel left off... at least that's what the back of the jacket said. However, going into the book cold (having picked it up just for the heeelarious cover), I found it to be a silly and humorous romp through Broadway of the mid-80s, following a group of theater-type pals a couple years out of high school. Edward, our protagonist, gets kicked out of Julliard after two years (to get some "life experience", his teacher encourages), and watches as his fr ...more
This was a really, really fun read. I was particularly proud of the fact that I understood each and every one of the many theatre references peppered throughout the story. I feel like a dolt for having read this before reading "How I Paid For College", which seems to hold a lot of the back story of the group of friends from this one, but this was a great stand-alone book nevertheless. Acito has a great talent for realistic dialogue and hilarious inner-monologue bits. After reading this, I'm kick ...more
May 04, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edward Zanni and friends are back. They're all out of high school now, all in college except for Doug, who is the lead singer in a band called "Almost Bruce" (Springsteen). After a bad audition, Edward is told he is "too jazz hands for Julliard" and his teacher recommends spending a year in the real world in order to experience life. He lands a gig as a party motivator, pretending to be a DJ on the British MTV. He is approached by good-looking Chad, who convinces Edward to find out company infor ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is maybe the funniest novel I've read this year. Edward is a particularly compelling narrator, and Acito can definitely turn a phrase, and the setting in NYC in the 80s plus all the jokes about New Jersey and musical theater... I chuckled through the whole book. Basically, Edward gets kicked out of Juilliard and then gets involved in several really ridiculous money-making schemes, including getting entangled with a stockbroker involved in insider trading. The ending is sweet, too, because E ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "Attack of the Theater People" in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. It was nice to meet up again with the same characters from Marc's previous book, "How I Paid for College". Marc Acito is a gifted writer who has a sharp, brilliant style who has created truly memorable characters you want to visit again and again. I'm hoping Marc is working on his next novel...I can't wait to read it!
If you read Acito's first book, you'll want to read this one too. If you haven't, get going because you
Greg Kerestan
This novel made me laugh, and I enjoyed it, but I can't see myself picking it up again. In general, much of the fun of "How I Paid for College" feels almost ripped off here, in an attempt to recapture the magic. Apart from some fun moments, like the Springsteen tribute band "Tramps Not Unlike Ourselves," this one is mostly forgettable. (I don't usually get political, but my best friend and grad school roommate was a bisexual woman who fought hard against bi-erasure and biphobia in media and cult ...more
Lots of fun! A quick read. Not as good as Acito's other book, How I Paid for College, but still good. The sympathetic characters & excellent one-liners will help you overlook the occasional clunky writing & utterly unbelievable plot! Edward becomes a Cockney MTV V-J! Edward becomes a rabbi! Edward becomes...Patti Scialfa! Edward becomes a mid-western salesman with a famous football player father & a birth defect! Edward becomes a French artist who dresses in early Elton John! Edward ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I was prepared to pan this book, sticking with it (mostly) for the outstanding narration of Jeff Woodman. But, by the end I realized that the characters had grown in the course of the story, especially Edward, the protagonist. The plot itself required a conscious suspension of disbelief a few times - at almost 10 hours it made a rather long audiobook.

Though a sequel to How I Paid for College, the book could stand alone, but reading the first book would give more context to the relationships.
I loved How I Paid for College SOOOOOO much, having been a high school theater geek myself. This book paled in comparison, but I'm not sure it would be possible for Acito, or anyone else, to ever write another book that I enjoyed as much. I enjoyed this, felt the same affection for the characters, laughed at Acito's dead-on humor, but ultimately didn't feel it was a strong as the first book. The plot was more meandering and less focused and the whole thing felt a little undisciplined. But still, ...more
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light, enjoyable, very funny sequel to Marc Acito's How I Paid for College. In this round we find young Edward being outsted from Juilliard for being "too jazz hands" and finding himself without a job or a life purpose in mid-'80s Manhattan. As in the last book, Edward's large group of friends provide colorand opportunity for law breaking at every turn. Frankly, I couldn't always keep the friends straight (straight being a very loosely defined term), but Acito's wit pops up often enough to distr ...more
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For those who do not know me, I'm very famous. My debut novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater won the Oregon Book Awards' Ken Kesey Award for the Novel although I sometimes leave out the Oregon part to make it sound more important. It was also selected as a Top Ten Teen Pick by the American Library Association, though it still has not achieved my ulti ...more
More about Marc Acito...

Other Books in the Series

Edward Zanni (2 books)
  • How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater (Edward Zanni, #1)

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“I shouldn't be surprised. Catholicism is the ultimate loophole religion (sin, confess, repeat), so it makes sense that a priest would know better than anyone how to work the angles. Still, when you go to confession and say, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," you don't expect him to say, "So, who hasn't?” 2 likes
“But that doesn't stop me from moving about him like a junior high girl lingering by the lifeguard station” 1 likes
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