Saturday, February 6, 2010

How I Became a Famous Novelist - Steve Hely

This book made me realize that I don't read that many fiction books that are intentionally funny. Certainly, books made me laugh now and again, but this one was funny enough that I had to stop reading it in bed with my husband because my out loud laughter was interupting Sports Center. Narrator Pete Tarslaw is still getting over his college girlfriend. His life is a mess, and unfortunately, he's just received her wedding invitation in the mail. So, Tarslaw gets a brilliant idea: he'll write a bestselling novel by the time of the wedding and he'll become so successful and famous that he'll upstage her on her big day. And so Tarslaw gets to work - studying other writers on the bestseller list. He's not out to write beautiful prose. He's out to make make money. Tarslaw's writing, as well as his theories about what will and won't work, along with his conversations with self-absorbed literary agents and bestselling writers will definitely make you re-evaluate whatever is on your bedside table waiting to be read. As Tarslaw's novel, The Tornado Ashes Club, gains momentum and Tarslaw finds himself written about blogs and invited to talk shows, the ridiculousness of the situation is increased. I thought Hely (as the real author here) did an amazing job of juxtaposing Tarslaw's literary attempts with his own narrative - of course, Hely brilliantly created himself an out. Anytime I came across a sentence that didn't quite work for me - because it seemed bloated or overly dramatic, I had to question whether he did it on purpose. After all, he wants his book, How I Became a Famous Novelist, to sell tons of copies too. And what better way to do that than to follow all of Tarslaw's own rules for success? This was very different from any of the books I've read in the last year, and a welcome satire/reality check on the reasons I choose to read so much and why I like the ones I like.

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