The Writing Class
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The Writing Class (Amy Gallup #1)

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,662 ratings  ·  444 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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oriana
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
David
Jun 10, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Sara
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
Meg
I really like Jincy Willett, and I also really liked reading this book. Here's the thing, though. It's a mystery, right. A sort of Ten Little American Indians thing, set amidst a writing class. So she's playing in a genre sandbox, which is great, but the mystery components of this book don't hold up entirely. The red herrings are done away with at weird times and a few of the crimes didn't make sense to me. There was also a lot of talking and making phone calls when I wished there was action. I...more
Nancy
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
Lela
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.
melissa
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
Jaylia3
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
Chance Lee
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
M
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
Tara
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
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
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
Joshua Gross
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
Andrew
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
Janice
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
Emily
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
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

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
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
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
Susan
Sep 06, 2008 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Laura
Just fun----but smart fun, witty fun, has you groaning-in-sympathy and also who-the-heck-done-it fun. The Writing Class operates from a kind of Canterbury Tales/Ship of Fools scenario, whereby strangers gather together, each with his/her own story (I refer to their personal ones, not the lamentably bad ones most of them cough up for the novel's eponymous writing class), and things happen. Surprisingly nasty things. I loved the teacher, the main character here, who is neurotic and spunky, with a...more
Melanie
A fast, fun read; an enjoyable mystery, wrapped in a writing class, inside a meditation on storytelling and the oft-times frustrated storytellers who tell them.

I read this after being (mostly) stood up for a first "date" with the members of my nascent writing group. I sat in the bookstore and ate carrot cake and plowed through this page-turner and thought to myself, ha ha, now I'm going to add all of you to the list of people I hope to spite with my writing, well, not you, Nathan, at least you...more
Ginia
It's been awhile since I read a book that I just couldn't put down. I think the last one was Water For Elephants.
For the life of me I couldn't figure out who the killer was, and that's why I gave it 5 stars. I should really do 4 1/2 stars because I absolutely hate bad language. So just imagine one star not filled in all the way.
Read this book and try not to get freaked out. There's a scene where the MC sees a letter in her house (from the killer), and just sits there and reads it. I would have...more
Diana Higgins
I feel like I'm cheating by marking this as "read" when I didn't actually finish it but I skipped to the end, saw who the murderer was and realized I simply didn't care. I even saw that another class member had been killed and I halfheartedly skipped around to find out who but it wasn't worth the effort. The 275-ish pages I suffered through should count as finishing!

It wasn't ALL bad. There were some fun sections and good passages. The characters, though, were horrible. Like children. Not that c...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."
More about Jincy Willett...
Winner of the National Book Award Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories Amy Falls Down Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules

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“Nothing was truly unbearable if you had something to read.” 76 likes
“...(W)here there's drama, there's crap.” 32 likes
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