Pilot Season opens on a television executive attempting to shave his floundering network’s fall roster, then moves through a steady stream of absurd television pilots rooted in the executive’s anxieties, disappointments, and alienation from his family. Along the way, readers are treated to sardonic parodies of our contemporary reality show-obsessed media culture. While critiquing the cruelty and exploitation of the medium, Pilot Season also manages to laud the human spirit’s ability to trump our flaws.
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“Brubaker paints an America of pixels and prose, probing into our TV-lit living rooms to expose our best and worst truths. He recognizes us for what we are—both viewer and viewee—and rather than condemning our culpability in what passes for entertainment, offers a story wonderful and weird enough to pull us from our sets.” – Erin Flanagan, author of It’s Not Going to Kill You, and Other Stories
“Like “Weird Al” Yankovic’s UHF as reconceived by Jorge Luis Borges, James Brubaker’s very funny, very melancholy Pilot Season is a moving meditation on the things we leave unfinished—some for the better, others, to our regret. If there is any justice in this world, it will get picked up.” -Gabriel Blackwell, author of Critique of Pure Reason and Shadow Man
“In James Brubaker’s Pilot Season, we are, as we often are, the audience: we sit in the comfort of our own sofas as things unfold in front of us–the shifting of lives, the melting of characters into one another, into archetypes. We have the benefit of changing the channel, yet the characters reposition themselves: try to make light of something that was once serious, try to find ways to restart something that should have never existed in the first place. Pilot Season is less about television & more about the act of watching television: if we were to be observed as we channel surf, we would find some humor, some sadness, & some pull that makes us want to turn off everything entirely, yet we remain glued to see what light flashes above the scene to let us know when to clap, when to sigh audibly.”-Brian Oliu, author of Level End and So You Know It’s Me
“James Brubaker’s Pilot Season is what might result if Simon Rich and J.G. Quintel shared an apartment in Hollywood and channeled Barry Hannah with an Ouija board to help them write treatments. Thank God for James Brubaker, and lord help us if any of these pilots gets picked up”. -Jon Billman, author of When We Were Wolves: Stories
“James Brubaker’s Pilot Season is collection of skeletal notes for fictional TV shows you wished existed, but don’t…at least not yet. Each premise is filtered through the panache of modern TV programming, but in Brubaker’s hands they swerve so painfully and unnervingly close to home they become high-definition glimpses into the hyperreality we’re already living. In these episodes, reality show contestants compete for the love of a father; a husband and wife settle their sitcom disputes by attempting to kill one another; and an old couple spend their days reminiscing about their favorite stars and friends who have died. Pilot Season taps into the familiar comfort of a rerun—the predicable, but satisfying story arc—only to decimate us in the end by supplanting the lives we follow on screen with the failures we live off camera. It’s an idea so brutally simple, you’ll think you could’ve done it, but you couldn’t. Forget those gold discs we shot into space with diagrams and greetings in every language. Rocket these pages to the cosmos or bury them for a thousand years so future civilizations can learn everything they never wanted to know about us.” -Jeff Simpson, author of Vertical Hold
“The vignettes in Brubaker’s Pilot Season, each describing a different, strangely familiar TV series, exist in a wonderful space between the fantastic and the possible. Individually, they offer a a keen critique of the cliched discourse of network television programing, while together they form a touching character study of the fallen network exec who green-lighted them, who appears briefly, only to be obscured behind a shifting prism of robots, clowns and ungrateful children. The book is funny, wise and brilliantly observed.” -Bayard Godsave, author of Lesser Apocalypses