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A Brilliant Novel in the Works

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  148 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-GBX-NONEX-NONEMicrosoftInternetExplorer4 A neurotic writer's novel begins to come to life as he struggles to save his marriage and his fledgling career. When Yuvi's wife finds him in his underwear, standing on top of his desk, she isn't terribly impressed with him and his writing habits.

But Yuvi worries. He has a wife who wants things he can't giv
Paperback, 226 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by MP Publishing Ltd (first published April 1st 2012)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  148 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rumpus
So one of the pleasures of being a reader AND a writer is that sometimes you get to read books before they "officially" come out. Yuvi is a grad school colleague of mine and I just finished "A Brilliant Novel." Generally when a friend or colleague sends me a book and maybe it isn't my cup of tea or isn't in the realm of my aesthetic, I send them back a hearty congratulations and tell them something I enjoyed about the book. If I love a book, I go public. So here I am on a Sunday morning typing u ...more
Therese Walsh
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I sincerely loved this novel--the story of a man coming to terms with himself and his history, including those things he's ashamed of, in order to move forward and finish writing his book. I know Yuvi, but my love for his novel is separate from that. I read it while on vacation, and was so wrapped up in it that I literally stood with it in the ocean for at least half an hour so that I could both be cool and continue reading! It's captivating, hysterical, naked, and--yes--brilliant. It even made ...more
Kate Maruyama
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was very lucky to be able to read this book early. A Brilliant Novel in the Works is hilarious, moving, devastatingly vulnerable, and deeply human. Yuvi Zalkow takes his eponymous hero on a hilarious and moving existential journey that pulls you in close with its intimate voice as "Yuvi"simultaneously makes you love him and drives you crazy. This book leaves you asking questions you hadn't thought you'd ask before about underwear, drinking, your G.I. tract and your overall existence.
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Next time I see Yuvi Zalkow I'm going to ask him: how's his brother-in-law's health? Is his wife pregnant? Is she still flogging him when he's tied up? And, did he finally buy a new pair of underwear? Not because we're such good friends that I know all the intimate details of his life. But because of the tandem-ness of just how gullibly deficient I am, and just how powerful Zalkow's writing is in his debut novel: A Brilliant Novel in the Works. So powerful in fact I found myself totally immersed ...more
Sara Russ
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This J.D. Salinger style book is thought provoking and unique with characters that tare at your guts, make you want to yell at them to wake up, and cry with them. The book is potent and rests carefully on the point of a blade between brilliant and wretched.

Written as a memoir, the reader will be often confused if the characters are real or fiction.

It is a worthy read and will take you so far out of your comfort zone that you may not recognize it as you turn to look about at the place you used
Lisa rokusek
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was sad to finish the book. I wanted to crawl inside the pages and hang out a while longer.
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've been umming and ahhing about writing this review for two weeks now, and I've finally decided that I've just got to sit down, throw caution to the wind and hope that I manage to do my tangled thoughts, and this book, justice.

Why the hold up? Well part of it is the fact that the book's protagonist, Yuvi, bears some surface similarities to the author...Yuvi. How the heck do you review a book about a failing author who frequently cuts up his ass, prefers being spanked to having sex, stands on t
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers who love humor, wit, depth, kindness, and honesty in what they read.
I tend to look skeptically at novels (and people) that call themselves brilliant, but that term is warranted for Yuvi Zalkow's first book. Although I hoped to savor it and extend the pleasure of reading the novel, once I got to about page 15, I blasted through it, stunned, moved, laughing out loud, marveling and at the end crying.

Among other things, A Brilliant Novel in the Works is:
• A rumination on the creative process
• A broken melody about love
• A hilarious and profound pastiche (for lack of
Kat Collins
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An unusual novel...I wasn't sure what to think when I started it. A crazy man standing on his desk in his underwear trying to write a novel? A raised eyebrow, but I continued to read. And I'm glad that I did. This takes you on a winding, terrifying, fragile path through the human psyche. While much of it seems dark, there are glimmers of softness, tenderness, and a deep breath.

The character Yuvi is writing a novel and how do you write a novel when the world is hard and terrible and frightening a
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What's brilliant about this novel? So. Many. Things. The whiny, angst-filled main character can't put on any pants at all, let alone his big-boy pair, BUT, through masterful character development and sleight-of-hand narrative progression, the author creates a super-sympathetic character and a story you don't want to put down. The novel manages to be both pants-wetting-funny and gut-wrenching. Plus, it'll make you want to scribble anagrams on cocktail napkins. *The Meaning of Life = The fine game ...more
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had a lot of fun reading this book. Zalkow has an interesting mix of humor and touching emotion, sometimes at the same time. It also has an interesting approach to metafiction. I wasn't always sure that was what Zalkow was doing, but it eventually became pretty clear. On the whole I would have to say it is a good book about writing a mess of a book.
Kris V Bernard
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rumpus-book-club
This novel really surprised and renewed my ever evolving idea of what makes a novel.
A fiction piece that touches so close to home, and becomes impossible to put down a few pages in, I highly recommend this fast, emotional, smart first novel by Sir Zalkow. Impressively human, raw and most of all - honest.

This book humbled me, and I couldn't love it more. Top favorite of 2012, for certainl.
Patricia L.
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you like quirky. I mean quirky. This is a roller coaster novel with not one but four pianos coming at you.
Happy 33 1/3 birthday!
Russ Marshalek
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-read
As always, The Rumpus book club's selection is AWESOME. Hilarious, painful and the sort of book that shouldn't work, or that should run dry, but instead cuts very, very deep.
Melanie Guerra
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
what an inventive, funny, poignant, confusing (in a good way) read!! i stood up on my desk and cheered!
Aug 02, 2012 added it
Discovered via Rare Bird Lit on facebook
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up at Powell's. It was the official release date, and Yuvi was reading upstairs in the Pearl room. The reading was brilliant, including a couple of hysterical short films, one of which included the line "meta-fiction is meta-crappy." Or at least, that's how I remember it. And, in part, Yuvi was right: meta-fiction CAN be crappy. At its best, it's hard to sustain for a novel-length work. But there was no way I was passing this read up, so I braced myself and dove in.

And I loved
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
It's kind of a crazy book with a LOT of heart. The writing is clever and fast-paced, easy to read. It's a brilliant novel indeed, but more like a memoir. I detect there is more than a little fiction involved here, so it's a novel-- but an unconventional one. There are chapters written in italics which can take you anywhere-- inside other characters' points of view, the author's memories of childhood and his parents (one even about himself written in the second person!), even a parody of the main ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
What are the odds that I would be reading two books about characters who have lost control of bodily functions and both written by Jewish authors? That is the case with reading Zalkow's A Brilliant Novel in the Works and Exit Ghost by Philip Roth. I've read half a dozen of Roth's books, but this is Zalkow's first novel. Yuvi, the main character, is struggling with his book, his marriage, his Judaism. The chapters are very brief and are disjointed enough to make you think of Kurt Vonnegut and per ...more
Dewayne Cushman
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I've followed Yuvi's failed writer blog for a while and have always enjoyed his take on writing and self reflection. I didn't really know what to expect from A Brilliant Novel in the Works, but I can only say that it far exceeded any expectations.

While it got off to a random start, the pieces quickly started to fall into place. It took me a few evenings, but I honestly couldn't put the book down for the last 5 hours.

And for me, the best sign of a good book is when you get to the last page and ye
Amy Schoeman
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Despite being well written and at times quite funny, the book got tiresome. The unrelenting self-pity, self-hatred, and incessant references to his Jewishness were annoying. Sure, highlight your ethnic/religious/gender background, but don't do it twenty times on a page! Philip Roth, for instance, highlights his Jewish background but he does with some degree of moderation, creativity, and interest; Yuri just states that he is Jewish in the same trite way, and the caricature he painted was so cons ...more
Larry Berthold
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this will it. Sad, true, twisted, heart-breaking, real, funny, and, yes even, especially, brilliant...all pertain. Be open to a different type of literary that does not shy from the masochism of daily life...flirts constantly w a new interpretation of 'non-fiction' ...then winds up being the brilliant novel of the title...and then some. Rewards the faith of the reader...which is seldom even a consideration in these days of toss off Hallmark-ian rambli ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Brilliant Novel in the Works, released in August by MP Publishing, is an incisive portrait of the act of creation and its effect on relationships. It’s a mind-boggling crazy quilt of a novel, the present-tense scenes stitched together with short, elegant stories ostensibly written by the neurotic but lovable protagonist Yuvi (but of course really written by Yuvi the author). The blurring of the line between fiction and memoir gives this playful book a powerful emotional punch. Amid hilarious r ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is narrated by an author who is trying to write a brilliant novel. He is neurotic, selfish, and twisted, yet I found it hard not to like him. His marriage is falling apart and his life is in a downward spiral as he continually fails to write his novel. A Brilliant Novel in the Works is the novel he is failing to write and the people in his life become characters in his novel. The book is hard to describe, but it is clever, heartbreaking, and funny all at once. Definitely not for everyo ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The only book I've ever read twice. I don't know what to say about it other than you just have to read it. It's gritty and quirky, funny and sad.

I don't choose books by genre. For me, it's all about the style of writing and a beautifully-crafted sentence. This is one of those books that made me want to read certain sentences to perfect strangers (but I refrained).

It's impossible to describe this book or shove into a genre, just get a copy and read it, then read it again.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Sometimes these kinds of things suck and sometimes they're good. This one was pretty good. Snapped a picture of the book in Portland then bought it on my kindle in the Seattle airport, started reading it on the train ride from Amsterdam to Berlin. Just wanted to tell a story to anybody still reading. Hey.
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The format, pace, and style of this novel felt like the contents of my brain whenever I try to do something intensely creative. At times uncomfortable, often hilarious with quick turns of phrase, the book felt like a novel, memoir, and what-to-expect-as-a-writer instruction manual. Fresh, funny, and sad at the same time and worth a read.
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent story, full of playfulness, humour and surprisingly touching moments. There's a certain rawness to the whole book that works wonderfully in its favour and I very much enjoyed the unique perspective it provided into the characters lives.
Laura Harrington
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Writing a book about a writer writing a book is a hard thing to pull off and make fresh, but Yuvi Zalkow does it. Full of anxiety, pain, and more laughter than you can imagine, this book has some very sharp edges and ultimately, a very engaging sweetness.
Brian Benson
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yuvi Zalkow somehow managed to write a novel about failing to write a novel. What's more, he somehow shaped it all into a riveting story that's by turns hilarious and deeply sad. I loved this super-meta, hyper-neurotic hot mess of a book.
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Yuvi Zalkow received his MFA from Antioch University and his stories have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Carve Magazine, and others. He is the creator of the "I'm a Failed Writer" online video series and has been rejected more than 600 times by reputable and disreputable journals.
“Even indoors, it seems that we should be wearing raincoats, that we need protection from all that we're up against.” 1 likes
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