Carolyn's Reviews > How I Became a Famous Novelist

How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely
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's review
Aug 28, 2009

really liked it
Read in August, 2009

"Writing a novel -- actually picking the words and filling in paragraphs -- is a tremendous pain in the ass. Now that TV's so good and the Internet is an endless forest of distraction, it's damn near impossible. That should be taken into account when ranking the all-time greats. Somebody like Charles Dickens, for example, who had nothing to do except eat mutton and attend public hangings, should get very little credit."
You can imagine that Pete Tarslaw is not interested in writing the great American novel. He's much more interested in writing the great American bestseller, and for all the wrong reasons, namely, humiliating his ex-girlfriend at her wedding, amassing untold wealth, and picking up chicks. His research at the local Borders helps him compile a list common to all successful novels, e.g., women who've given up on love but turn out to be beautiful, descriptions of meals at dull points, and obscure exotic locations. Thus is born "The Tornado Ashes Club," with Tarslaw doing most of his research on Wikipedia.
I really did laugh out loud reading this book, and I think it would appeal to a lot of different types of readers. Fortunately, it went beyond being just a book full of jokes and had some interesting points to make. Hely's conversational writing makes this very quick to read, and it goes beyond just being a "joke" book. I gave it 4 stars because in the end, it isn't Hemingway (or Dickens), but one of Hely's points is that authors should write in their own voice and let the chips fall where they may.

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