Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman

4 Comments

 

Buy at AmazonHard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman is a book by Jamie Reidy. It is a factual account of his time as a pharmaceutical representative working for Pfizer, and has been made into a film, Love and Other Drugs, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.

I haven’t seen the film, but I did stumble upon a review of it, and subsequently read a plot synopsis (IMdB has a full synopsis, complete with spoilers) which described how Reidy gets romantically involved with Maggie, a woman suffering from Young Onset Parkinson’s. My interest was piqued.

But I don’t get out to the cinema very often (I have young children and no established baby sitter), so I thought I’d check out the book it was based on. I usually prefer the book to the film, anyhow – and, besides, the film has had some truly bad reviews. I found a reasonably priced copy of the book on Amazon and read it almost as soon as it arrived.

Maggie isn’t in the book. The book doesn’t mention anyone with Parkinson’s, Young Onset or otherwise.

Are you still reading? Well, I was. I was looking out for Maggie – surely the movie studio wouldn’t just invent such a big part of the story? (Answer: yes, they would; it seems that the book and the film bear only a superficial resemblance to one another.) But I was also quite enjoying the book. Reidy is a likeably intelligent slacker who coasts through college and army life. He quits the army and returns home, much to his parents’ chagrin. The job of pharmaceutical rep. at Pfizer lands in his lap and he accepts it. He soon works out how to play the system, doing the bare minimum of work, and somehow ends up being ‘promoted’ to the urology team in California, just in time for the launch of Viagra.

The author comes across as a pretty standard sort of guy – I think I’ve met his English counterparts a fair few times – he’s a lazy, competitive underachiever mostly interested in beer, football and sex, although faintly embarrassed by the latter. There is no romance in the book; a girlfriend is left behind in Chicago, and that’s the last we hear of her, and while there are intimations that Jamie’s got some sort of love life, the girls aren’t mentioned for the simple reason that they have nothing to do with the subject of the book: Jamie’s rather unspectacular career.

The book is fast-paced and well written, with a wry, self-deprecating wit. It throws a little light on many things: the US medical system, big pharma’s relationship to the American medical system, and, of course, the minutiae of American society in general. But it doesn’t pause too long, lest the reader get bored. It is, in truth, a fairly superficial book, written for comedic effect rather than deep insight. In the ‘Epilogue, continued’, added after the book was initially published, Reidy admits that he failed to properly reveal his ‘hopes, dreams and fears’.

But it’s still an entertaining – and, to a certain extent, enlightening – read.

Buy Hard Sell at Amazon.co.uk
(Use this link and I will get a small percentage commission)

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4 thoughts on “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman

  1. Well, I have found this blog searching for some information about the film. I´ve found the information that it is non-fiction story, therefore I was quiet curoius about the book. Trully speaking I´m a little bit dissapointed that the love story form the film was just a fiction. Therefore I am not so interested in the book. However I have to say the film is really good and I like it very much. And cannot really understand the bad reviews. I had a trainer with parkinson, a very inteligent man. And I think it is greate how the problem was showed in the film. Maybe the whole story or the main part was fiction but on the other hand from the vey beginning to the very end also real. I think there are lots of “Jaimies” and “Maggies” in the world without or with parkinson. The main performers has shown in a very great way the emotions that one have in different situations. That is one point why I liked it.

    • Thank you for your comment, Ag.

      I still haven’t seen the film, but it was only last night that a friend recommended it to me. I really did ought to get around to watching it!

  2. See “Love And Other Drugs” http://wp.me/pMUy3-Kn I wrote it some time ago. I’m off the agonists, had DBS (unfortunately, unsuccessful I am having to have the surgery re~done) Still, I’m on lots less meds and much better for it, although I have lost some mobility, but my dyskenisias are much reduced.

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