K's Reviews > How I Became a Famous Novelist

How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely
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's review
Apr 03, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: humorous-or-trying-to-be
Recommended to K by: Lena Phoenix, Jason Pettus
Recommended for: Everyone on goodreads

How to Become a Famous Goodreads Reviewer

1. Review a book that lots of people are reading.

Really great reviews of obscure books are often wasted efforts; even if you have a long list of devoted friends and followers, these reviews will not get you as much recognition as will reviews of hot, current reads.

2. Try to choose a book that has pulled on lots of people's heartstrings, a book which you can then rip as emotionally manipulative and mediocre.

The Kite Runner and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society would be good candidates, although by now the goodreads review industry for these popular titles is probably saturated. But you know what I mean. Exposing books like these as sentimental frauds will get your review a lot of traffic, both from people who cheer you on and from people who take your review personally. If the latter people flame you with nasty comments, others will jump to your defense, hopefully sparking a wide-ranging controversy and bringing you lots of voters.

3. Make your review as creative and funny as possible (but try not to be lame).

Although an intellectual and thoughtful review will appeal to many and get you some votes, nothing makes you popular on goodreads like a review that cracks people up.

Lists like these abound in "How I Became a Famous Novelist," composed by the book's hero, Pete Tarslaw. Pete is a twenty-something loserish guy with a useless degree, a dead-end job, a potential alcohol problem, and a few sympathetic friends. Motivated by dreams of humiliating his ex-girlfriend, Pete decides to write, and actually manages to publish, a mock literary fiction novel. Pete's book makes every literary mistake and shouldn't succeed, but through a series of unlikely events actually does.

"How I Became a Famous Novelist" is actually not a parody of popular literary fiction in and of itself, but rather, the story of what happens after Pete gets published. "Famous Novelist" starts out uproariously funny but becomes more serious after Pete's book gets recognition. Pete ultimately has a change of heart which raises questions for all of us about quality writing and the line between a genuinely touching story and sappy crap. If we think it's crap, does that make it crap? And what about the author's intentions? If we feel the book is crap, does that mean the author was insincere? And is that relevant?

"How I Became a Famous Novelist" is a good story, but what I loved best was its various parodies of popular writing. From the bestseller list on the back cover ("The Balthazar Tablet," by Tim Drew: The murder of a cardinal leads a Yale professor and an underwear model to the Middle East, where they uncover clues to a conspiracy kept hidden by the Shriners") to the endorsements on the inside cover ("'You wish to do more with this book than read it. You must eat it, consume it, make it a part of your physical form, as it is already consuming your mindspace. It must have physical space too. It demands it.' --Susan Freidegger, author of Myopia Dystopia") to the overwritten excerpts of Pete's book, the parodies kept me chuckling even as the story became more serious.

I don't know whether every reader would give this book five stars, but it certainly did the job for me. Even if being this uncritical means I will never get to be a famous goodreads reviewer.
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Reading Progress

07/21/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Skylar (last edited Apr 03, 2010 01:00PM) (new)

Skylar Burris 4. Follow Khaya's example. ;)

message 2: by K (last edited Apr 03, 2010 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

K Thanks, Skylar! Even if I never achieve goodreads fame, my friends' kind words warm my heart. :D

message 3: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan I guess I'll bump this up.

Another great review, Khaya. Thanks to mutual friends, I get to read quite a few of your reviews.

message 4: by K (new) - rated it 5 stars

K Thanks, Lisa! You're very kind, and I'm really happy you enjoy my reviews. I hope you like this book as much as I did; my book club was decidedly less enthusiastic unfortunately.

message 5: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Khaya wrote: "Thanks, Lisa! You're very kind, and I'm really happy you enjoy my reviews. I hope you like this book as much as I did; my book club was decidedly less enthusiastic unfortunately."

It looks good to me, but with the size of my to-read shelf I may or may not get to it.

message 6: by K (new) - rated it 5 stars

K Well if you do, I will look forward to your review!

message 7: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Meta GoodReads reviews are the best.

message 8: by K (new) - rated it 5 stars

K Thanks, Moira! I also enjoy them. It was fun to write one.

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