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How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely
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Jan 25, 10


This was the funniest book I’ve read in a long while. Jilted Pete Tarslaw cooks up a plan to write a blockbuster novel, just to show the woman who got away. And heck, also to attract a fresh bevy of ardent bibliophiles, just like his adopted mentor, Preston Brooks, who is sort of a cross between Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller, and whose saccharine oeuvre includes “Kindness to Birds.” Tarslaw goes to work studying the bestseller lists and bookstore shelves, recording his astute and funny observations of devastatingly hilarious renditions of what flies off the shelves – such books as “Cumin: The Spice that Changed the World” and “The Jane Austen Women’s Investigator’s Club.” Bennett Cerf once looked at the bookseller list and decided that the perfect formula for a bestselling book would be one called “Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog.” Hely updates that formulation brilliantly, finding such sure things as “World War II, coffee, dogs, weather, Christianity, babies, plant names, secrets, promises, faintly heard songs and blue collar touches.” First he goes for the obvious lucre by mimicking James Patterson, but finds the pace of thriller writing too draining. Eventually Pete writes his claim on literary fame with “The Tornado Ashes Club.” Just try to imagine the tearjerking plot that would garner a title like that. I don’t know if everyone will laugh as hard as I did at this sharp satire of the publishing game, but just about everyone I know will. Then again, I don’t know anyone who isn’t a librarian or a bookseller.
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