Stay Up with Hugo Best: A Novel (Hardcover)
April 2019 Indie Next List
“In her sharply imagined, comedic novel, Somers tackles with effortless finesse the #MeToo issue of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. When 29-year-old June Bloom accepts an invitation from comedian Hugo Best, her childhood idol (and recent boss), to spend a long holiday weekend at his country mansion, she finds herself privy to the messy complexities of his personal life. Refusing any facile judgements or conclusions, Stay Up With Hugo Best explores the complexities of people and relationships, and the many shades of gray that make us all human. A fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable debut!”
— Michaela Carter, Peregrine Book Company, Prescott, AZ
June Bloom is twenty-nine, broke, and an aspiring comedy writer.
Hugo Best is a beloved late-night TV icon and notorious womanizer who invites her to his mansion for Memorial Day Weekend.
This is the story of their four days together, a “zippy…magnificent…devilishly fun ride.” —Vogue
June Bloom is a smart, funny, and clear-eyed writers’ assistant on the late-night comedy show, Stay Up with Hugo Best. Hugo Best is in his sixties, a beloved icon of TV and humor, and a notorious womanizer. After he unexpectedly retires and a party is held for his now unemployed staff, June ends up at a dive bar for an open-mic night and prepares for the sad return to the anonymous comedian lifestyle. What she’s not prepared for is a run-in with Hugo at that dive bar. Nor for the invitation that swiftly follows: Hugo asks June to come to his mansion in Greenwich for the long Memorial Day weekend. “No funny business,” he insists.
June, in need of a job and money, confident she can handle herself, but secretly harboring the remains of a childhood crush on the charming older comedian and former role model, accepts. The exact terms of the visit are never spelled out, but June is realistic and clear-eyed enough to guess. Even so, as the weekend unfolds and the enigmatic Hugo gradually reveals himself, their dynamic proves to be much more complicated and less predictable than she expected.
At once hilarious and poignant, brilliantly incisive and terrifically propulsive, Stay Up with Hugo Best is an incredibly timely exploration of sexual politics in the #MeToo age, and the unforgettable story of one young woman’s poignant stumbling into adulthood.
About the Author
Erin Somers’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House Open Bar, Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, McSweeney’s, The Cincinnati Review, and many other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire and was a 2016 NYC Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow and a 2016 Millay Colony resident. She lives in Beacon, New York, with her husband and daughter. Stay Up with Hugo Best is her first novel.
“A zippy debut…June’s quick wit keeps the banter flowing over a bizarre Memorial Day weekend…the millennial and the magnetic celebrity are surprisingly well suited, two sardonic souls who find themselves connecting…magnificent…a devilishly fun ride.”
“Incisive, funny, and tinged with melancholy, the timely novel follows two lost but clever souls desperate for connection.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“Taut and incisive... tender... Somers is clear—exquisitely, wrenchingly—when articulating Bloom’s lifelong fixation on Best.”
— New York Times Book Review
“On the surface, Somers' debut is light and breezy, but the narrative is deft, controlled, and deadly smart. She mines depths out of Hollywood's propensity to look the other way when beloved men behave badly without a hint of preachiness. Instead, she's interested in complicity... What could be a straightforward novel about a young woman and an older man taking mutual advantage of one another is instead a brilliant study in how rarely we seize opportunities to grow and change for the better—especially if we're lucky enough to get more than one. An outstanding comedic debut about the deeply unfunny trials of growing up in and out of the spotlight. Somers is a writer to watch.”
— Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Stay Up With Hugo Best is a book that is also described as 'the perfect read for the #MeToo era,' but that isn’t just a platitude. The novel follows June, a junior staffer at a late-night TV show, who goes home with the much-older host of said show. You may think you know what happens next, but the novel doesn’t follow the sleazy old man plus naive ingenue playbook. It gives the agency to its rightful owner, a young woman stumbling into adulthood who must navigate an awkward weekend with her boss. Praised for its insider details of the world of late-night television, Stay Up With Hugo Best is a witty and subtle commentary on sex, power, and social politics."
“I was honestly surprised to find so many funny one-liners in a novel with the unlikely subject of comedy writing, which is usually a bruising, neurotic enterprise. Erin Somers is a clear-eyed and clever young talent who has mastered the special art of dissection with affection.”
— Carl Hiaasen, author of Razor Girl
"A deeply necessary, poignant, and hilarious read."
"Our whole culture desperately needs Stay Up with Hugo Best. A book so relevant, and yet so incredibly funny."
— Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success
"Funny, sharp, and very fun. A contemporary story that follows a complex set of characters so self-aware that they become even more vibrant on the page.”
— Weike Wang, author of Chemistry
“Stay Up with Hugo Best is sharp, funny, and moving. By the time I finished, I felt like I’d taken a weekend trip to comedian Hugo Best’s mansion myself, taken a dip in his pool, smoked with his son. Erin Somers brilliantly and beautifully captures the life of June Bloom, an ambitious young woman at the point of her career where she feels like anything might happen, and also nothing might, and is driven by curiosity about what’s to come. An extremely winning, relatable, and convincing debut.”
— Annie Hartnett, author of Rabbit Cake
"An older man, a younger woman, show biz, nakedness--but wait! This is the hilarious version with characters so sympathetic you root for them all, even the guy."
— Patricia Marx, New Yorker humorist and author of Him Her Him Again the End of Him
"Both challenging and, yes, entertaining.”
— AM New York
"This timely and often very funny novel speaks to how the #MeToo movement swept Hollywood—and the comedy world in particular."
"Somers sidesteps the predictable path the reader might expect this weekend to take, instead meandering into subtle, surprising territory. Within the strict temporal boundaries she has set herself, Somers depicts two equally lost souls unable to connect on a deep level. This is a winning debut."
— Publishers Weekly
"A timely comment on sex and power in the entertainment industry... There are some great laugh-out-loud moments and one-liners, and the pace is steady throughout."
"Ingenious… With Hugo Best, Somers deftly teases out the muddled and sometimes inappropriate relationship men like him have with fame, aging and the women who get caught in their wake… Somers does a great job balancing June's competing feelings… Somers shines when depicting the little moments between the two, which are funny and poignant... Stay Up with Hugo Best itself never feels unsure: Somers knows exactly when both the laugh lines and the cringes should hit."
— Shelf Awareness
"Erin Somers shows power dynamics aren't always what they seem.”
"Anything other than predictable."
"Exceedingly clever... Erin Somer’s debut novel is definitely worth staying up for.
— The What