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The Writing Class (Amy Gallup #1)

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,118 Ratings  ·  518 Reviews
Amy Gallup is gifted, perhaps too gifted for her own good. Published at only twenty-two, she peaked early and found critical but not commercial success. Now her former life is gone, along with her writing career and beloved husband. A reclusive widow, her sole companion a dour, flatulent basset hound who barely tolerates her, her daily mantra Kill Me Now, she is a loner af ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2008)
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5th out of 34 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Oct 27, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring/wannabe writers, burned out writers, batshit crazy writers
I picked up this book because I found the concept amusing: a burned out author who now gets by teaching creative writing extension courses has to solve a murder in her class.

The Writing Class follows the conventions of a "Ten Little Indians"-style murder mystery. We're introduced to an entire class of writer wannabes, and then we spend the book trying, along with the main character, to guess who the killer is. Jincy Willett is funny in a sharp and satirical but humane way, and she has a real gif
...more
Lela
Jan 07, 2014 Lela rated it really liked it
I completely enjoyed this book. The characters were wonderful and eccentric. It was so comedic yet with a scary murderer bit. I loved the many writing tips stealthily inserted into the dialogue. Then, there was the subtle way the effects of isolation and loneliness were described and overcome. I recommend the book without reservations.
Oriana
Jul 30, 2013 Oriana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
This was a perfect choice for an airplane book, especially since we (stupidly) flew fucking Airtran, which doesn't even show movies! WTF? But so I was finished with this before we even got to our layover.

What to say...? I like Jincy a whole lot, and I liked this too, but it wasn't remotely as good as Winner of the National Book Award. (Also, side note, Jincy? Your titles blow.)

This is the story of a woman who teaches a writing class for grownups at a local college somewhere in California. She'
...more
Sara
Jul 10, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it
I found this book to be funny, provocative, and above all, intelligent. My sense is that Willett's wisdom has been hard-earned, yet she shares it generously. I'm not a writer, and I've never attended workshops such as those so precisely evoked in this novel, but as a teacher of English, I recognize what Willett so clearly describes: the many nuances of the relationship between a well-intended, ambitious class and an equally responsible instructor.
Many of us who read compulsively, hopefully, con
...more
Matt
Jun 20, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, lovers of a good story, lovers of language
All at once this novel is funny, clever, sad, thrilling, and readable. And in between all of the lovely bits of story, there are some nearly profound thoughts on writers and writing, on art vs. not art, on loneliness and on happiness and what it means to be either or both. And, of course, the humor--the wit--is constantly surprising, appearing in places you'd never expect it if you've never read Jincy Willett before. Sure, the identity of the killer didn't come as a huge shock to me--I'd guessed ...more
Meredith
Jul 22, 2008 Meredith rated it really liked it
Yesterday, I noticed this book was due today and someone had put a hold on it. (The hold wasn't there last week!) So after dinner, I cracked it to see if it were worth keeping/putting back on the list. I finished it this morning, and didn't get a lot of sleep in the meantime (except for the fifteen-minute nap on the couch between 5th and 6th class chapters. It involved drool, and I won't say more than that). What a fun read! Interesting and endearing characters, fascinating weirdness but also to ...more
Steve
Jun 29, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read. Maybe not the best as a mystery, but an engaging premise. Amy, an author who years before had been called promising, teaches an adult writing class. With each session, though, progressively bad things happen. They know that one of their own classmates is the culprit. So, invoking the standard catchphrase, whodunit? We’re supposed to figure it out from the students’ writing assignments. The recognizable archetypes are part of the fun: the fan of the hard-boiled detective novel, the se ...more
Ms.pegasus
Jan 07, 2016 Ms.pegasus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in a cleverly written novel
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: G.R. friend Dale Phillips' review
Shelves: fiction
Most of us have attended a continuing ed. class; few have imagined it from the viewpoint of the teacher. There is the nervous headcount (high enough to meet the registrar's quorum?). There is the awkward roll-call of tongue-twisting names. There are first impressions prompted by age, clothing, and mannerisms (stereotyping, certainly, but open to revision as the term progresses). Reading preferences? (Please, not the default triumvirate of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Updike!) Motivations are divers ...more
Nancy
Sep 01, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it
There was a lot to like about this book. Jincy Willett is a sharp, witty (and a bit bitter) writer who it's just plain fun to hang around with, and there were many wonderful lines and paragraphs that I just had to read aloud to Jim. I also loved the concept (an extension school writing class -- one of the writers starts killing off the others)

The problem, however, and a big one, was with the murder mystery. Jincy Willett had absolutely no idea how to do that well; it was obvious that she was mor
...more
melissa
Mar 16, 2009 melissa rated it liked it
A very interesting thing happened when I was reading this book. It hasn’t happened before. Several times throughout, I would think to myself, why am I reading this? It was entertaining enough, but I didn’t think I was really invested enough to continue. I would put it down and walk away for a while. I usually have several books on the go, but when I would sit down and debate what to read next, none of them appealed to me, and I always ended up back at this book. There was such a diverse cast of ...more
Chance Lee
Oct 24, 2013 Chance Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, favorites
I picked up The Writing Class after reading Jincy's story "The Best of Betty" in the David Sedalia-edited collection Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules. "Betty" is a great story: a tragi-comic arc full of wit, pain, sadness, and humor. "Who is Jincy Willett?" I asked myself. Looking her up, I noticed The Writing Class, a book I'd noticed at the bookstore but never read. I should have. This book is the perfect fit for me right now.

Amy Gallup is a failed writer. Well, that's how she sees
...more
Tamsen
Jan 30, 2015 Tamsen rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-4
Two stars is deceptive, but I think ultimately what this book deserves. I really, really enjoyed the book when all the characters met as a writing class. I liked Amy's redirects and the class comments on each piece of work. I thought Amy was a well-rounded character (and clearly from the author's GR bio, a tad autobiographical) - the rest of the class not as much, unfortunately. I could have read this as a stand alone fiction book about a cast of aspiring writers. The mystery did nothing for me ...more
Jaylia3
Aug 12, 2013 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it
I loved Jincy Willet’s hilarious second book about aging novelist and writing instructor Amy Gallup so much that I doubled back to read this first one. While this has the same main character and I enjoyed it a lot, The Writing Class is very different from its sequel and I liked the second book more. Amy Falls Down is absurd, funny, insightful, and moving, and while The Writing class has all of those qualities they aren’t as strong and it’s first and foremost a mystery--an element that is not par ...more
Drew
Jun 01, 2009 Drew rated it it was amazing
At a time when I was already in the middle of several other books (just as I am right now), the bookstore where I work got a shipment of new books in, and this one looked fascinating to me. I dropped everything else I was reading in order to blow through this book in about three days, and I never regretted it for a second. At first glance, "The Writing Class" might seem like a standard cozy mystery, one structured in a similar manner to the endless craft mysteries pumped out by Berkeley Prime Cr ...more
Emily
Jul 11, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I'm sure this review will be helpful to no one, but I'll write it anyway. As an English/Literature nerd I really enjoyed this book. The main character is a bitter, overweight, reclusive writer that hasn't written anything in years. She teaches a writing class in the evening. As the class progresses, students start receiving threats in the form of letters, pranks, and pictures. The instructor, Amy, also starts getting threatening letters and phone calls. She knows the culprit is someone in the cl ...more
M
Apr 26, 2009 M rated it it was ok
Perhaps it is unfair to give a low grade due to failed expectations - as someone who teaches creative writing in high school, I am therefore that much more excited and that much more critical when it comes to a novel with that premise - I want it to resonate with me more so than the usual book and when it doesn;t I am that much more dismayed.
There are a few ways in which this work failed me, and it is hard to know how much is the author's fault.
This is about a writing class with the usual cast o
...more
Susan
Sep 06, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of murder mysteries, books about writing workshops
I love stories about writing workshops. They make me laugh. They are usually well-written, too, and this one is no exception. I only had a few issues:

1. Amy says she uses a hotmail address when she clearly was using something else at the beginning? At first I thought this was a clue of some sort but it seems to just be a mistake.
2. The cover is great and caught my attention at the bookstore but it doesn't suit the story at all and I don't see how a lot of the labels fit the characters in the boo
...more
Francesca Forrest
Oct 28, 2015 Francesca Forrest marked it as to-read
I was moved to add this to my to-read list by this fabulous review. Admittedly, the set-up is one that would have appealed to me even without the review, but without the review (a) I wouldn't have found the book and (b) I wouldn't have known just how well the author carries it off. Looking forward to reading it.
Tara
Mar 23, 2010 Tara rated it it was ok
This book opened with so much promise--I was loving it, laughing aloud nearly every other page!--but it petered out for me towards the middle. Having taken many writing workshops, I loved the set-up of the novel (there's almost always writing in any writing class that spawns laughter); I also found Amy's website so funny it gave me side stitches. And I liked Amy, not to mention loved her back story--it comes out at the end and is very powerful, yet by that point I was no longer invested in the c ...more
Sarah
Apr 29, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-reads
I really, really loved this book... which I picked up at the library on the assumption that it would be a B-lister which I could easily handle while on newborn patrol. Not so: in fact, I more or less ignored my newborn during the day I was reading it (RELAX, only to the extent that one can safely and responsibly ignore a newborn... I would have finished the book in three hours if I weren't nursing, relocating, or tickling). It was simultaneously well constructed, warmly funny, sharply satirical, ...more
Terra
Jun 05, 2008 Terra rated it liked it
This is what happens when you don't read jacket copy. I thought this was going to be a humorous, quirky story about a community writing course full of literary duds and amusing references to classic literature. While I wasn't disappointed there, the story takes a sharp turn into a suspenseful but never truly frightening murder mystery. It's an enjoyable and quick read, full of entertaining scenes such as a classroom's attempts to uncover the motivations and character of a murderer based on a lit ...more
Emily Mack
In The Writing Class, washed-up author Amy finds herself in quite the situation when an anonymous student in her Creative Writing 101 class begins to harass -- and then murder -- people from the group. A very modern and bookish take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, I would say!

This is a light and fun book, and Jincy Willett is very talented in that respect. In the beginning of the novel, though, I failed to appreciate the urgency of the mysteries at hand, and it did take me a bit t
...more
Joshua Gross
Jan 13, 2014 Joshua Gross rated it really liked it
This was a great book that kept surprising me. I knew nothing about it when I started other than Jincy Willett had a great story in s collection I read. I didn't even know it was sort of a mystery, even tho the mystery itself wasn't the point. I loved how this writing class seemed so real, the ones I've been in having been very similar with similar types of people. And these people can be easy to categorize until you start seeing them as actual people. I got a little confused at one point becaus ...more
Janice
Jun 25, 2008 Janice rated it it was ok
i was "assigned" this book at work, but i was pretty interested in it when i read the back jacket copy. i was really interested when i started reading, and couldn't quite put it down. at first. its the kind of book i would have gladly read 20 years ago, but it was also really enthralling. at first.

then one incident occurred in its pages that made me step back and look at the book in my hands, as if it were really something very different and quite icky. i just, so very suddenly, stopped believin
...more
Tara Calaby
The Writing Class is an interesting novel. For much of its first half, it feels like light-hearted women's fiction – a study of the standard "types" that fill writing classes across the world. The second half, however, ventures into cosy mystery territory, when the nasty pranks being played on the class's members lead up to murder. I think it was this dual nature that limited my appreciation of the work. I could enjoy both aspects separately but, together, they both ended up feeling a little lac ...more
Kristiana Alex
Jul 27, 2012 Kristiana Alex rated it it was amazing

Psát recenzi na tuhle knihu je pro mne hodně těžké, protože sama kniha se jdnou svou dosti podstatnou částí dotýká právě hodnocení literárních děl. A obstát proti přesile, kterou tvoří všechny postavy vytvořené Jincy Willett, to je opravdu obtížné. V prvé řadě k obsahu. Neuvěřitelně napínavý, čtivý, plynulý a svým způsobem lehký a vtipný text. Amy, hlavní postava knihy je člověku neuvěřitelně blízká, i když má svá tajemství a občas až přehnané názory na lidskou společnost. Jenže přesně to, jak j
...more
Victoria
Feb 25, 2011 Victoria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-fic
Oh, I really had a fun time reading this book! It was very well done and quite entertaining! From almost the very first page, it immediately reminded me of one my favorite movies, Throw Momma From The Train and while the characters that Willett created had little in common with the class in the movie, and the Hitchcockian elements present in the film, were stripped from this book, there were some elements that could not have been coincidental (like "the night was hot"). Willet did a stellar job ...more
christa
I took enough creative writing classes in college to know exactly who Jincy Willett is talking about when she introduces Tiffany, the student who combs every piece of writing for evidence that women are being portrayed in a way that is demeaning. I also recognized the doctor, who plunked down a dictionary-sized novel-in-progress on the first day of class, and Carla -- little talent, but in the front row every semester, parroting back -isms from the professor.

Willett's most recent novel, "The Wr
...more
Trin
Aug 22, 2008 Trin rated it really liked it
Amy Gallup is a novelist who peaked too young; she now teaches adult extension writing classes. Things are going well with her new group of students, except someone—one of them—is sending poison pen letters and playing cruel pranks. And then things escalate…to murder!

Low marks for that summary. But Willett’s novel (for some reason being marketed as mainstream fiction even though it is, let’s face it, a mystery) is fantastic. She gives Amy a fascinating history that she unfolds slowly and cleverl
...more
Chloe
Mar 12, 2015 Chloe rated it liked it
Loved the idea of this book - perhaps because of it's cover!? Since I am in a hurry and want to get a few reviews written, I will just dot point my views:

* I would have enjoyed this story more if I didn't keep getting the characters mixed up (there seemed an awful lot of them)

* I learnt a bit about writing (and that I would be totally hopeless if I tried)

* I was not able to guess the who and why (and even wanted to skip to the last page to see)

* I was not riveted to my seat, but it was an ok rea
...more
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from the author's website: "An aging, bitter, unpleasant woman living in Escondido, California, who spends her days parsing the sentences of total strangers and her nights teaching and writing. Sometimes, late at night, in the dark, she laughs inappropriately."
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“Nothing was truly unbearable if you had something to read.” 95 likes
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