Previously Owned Fiction

By Tk Published on .

Michael Zadoorian has been a copywriter since 1981, and, like many ad scribes, he's got a first novel in his drawer, which "will be there forever," he says. But that's not a problem, since his second novel has just been published by Norton. It's called Second Hand, and as the title implies, "it's about things we throw away," explains Zadoorian. Pegged by Publishers Weekly as "an incisively humorous and surprisingly poignant coming-of-age tale," the central character of Second Hand is a man who owns a store called Satori Junk. "It's an earnest book about ironic people," says the author, who credits Walker Percy's The Moviegoer as an influence. Second Hand is not at all about the ad business except that "the book is about junk and so is advertising," he jokes. But Zadoorian, an avid estate sale-goer, is serious about his junk; he confesses to "an obsession with old things and what they mean."

The 42-year-old writer is firmly ensconced among his old things in his native Michigan, with English and writing degrees from local Wayne State, four years in the '80s with Doner/Detroit and, for the last nine years, a very amenable steady freelance gig with Campbell-Ewald/Detroit, which gives him plenty of time to work on the finer aspects of his art. His short fiction has appeared in a host of literary reviews, and even his ad work has a literary bent; one of his accounts is Borders, for whom he writes pithy "Borders Moments" ads, like, "Meet the Bill Zehme. He is writer of book about Andy Kaufman. Tenk you veddy much," for a Bill Zehme book signing.

And no less a prince of page-turners than one-man vice squad Elmore Leonard has written a pithy blurb for the jacket of Zadoorian's novel: "Second Hand hooked me right away -- Zadoorian is a stylist with his own sound. He's a very entertaining writer, hip and funny." It turns out that Leonard's son-in-law works at Campbell-Ewald and Leonard himself worked there decades ago. So not only does the agency have a literary tradition, but Zadoorian, who does bookstore readings of his own, may have the pleasure of writing a Borders ad for himself. "That would be kind of cool," he admits.

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