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First published July 1, 2009
In strewn banners that lay like streamers from a long ago parade, the sun's fading seraphim rays gleamed onto the hood of the old Ford and ribboned the steel with the meek orange of a June tomato straining at the vine. From the back seat, door open, her nimble fingers moved along the guitar like a weaver's on a loom. Stitching a song. The cloth she made was a cry of aching American chords, dreamlike warbles built to travel miles of lonesome road. They faded into the twilight, and Silas leaned back on the asphalt, as if to watch them drift into the Arkansas mist.As someone who has read literally reams of similar drivel, I found Hely's observations about how to write a bestselling literary novel (based on insights gleaned from a spot-on satire of the NYT bestseller list) absolutely hilarious. Tarslaw's whole cynical attitude towards writing is also a funny contrast to the platitudes offered up in defense of literary fiction.
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 better to do except eat mutton and attend public hangings, should get very little credit.The fun here is in Tarslaw's perverted yet totally accurate worldview; the plot seems more or less beside the point. If you have a publishing background or even just follow the NYT bestseller list, this book is not to be missed.
I hadn’t cried since the days after Polly left, when I rolled around on a mattress like a helpless seal pup.