Saturday, October 03, 2009
BooksFirst - September 2009
My Areas of Expertise by John Hodgman
Bonk by Mary Roach
How I Became a Famous Novelist by Stephen Hely
I love metathematic books and How I Became A Famous Novelist is a delicious head trip by Steve Hely. In his first solo book, former Letterman writer Hely dissects the publishing world in a way that makes you wonder if he ever wants to publish a second book.
The premise is that the protagonist in a fit of revenge fueled jealousy over his old girlfriend getting married decides to emulate every bad cliche of fiction and write bestseller just to impress her. That he manages to do so, the write the best seller part, not necessarily the exact revenge on his ex- part, is part of the manic comic arc of this book. Along the way he interacts with many of the kitschy authors he is trying to emulate. And while the title of the book foreshadows the eventual outcome, it doesn't quite come about the way you'd expect.
Much of the greatness of the book are the phony excerpts that preface each chapter. Often in the style of thinly veiled best-selling authors, they are brilliant parodies. Part of the awkwardness is realizing that I am just familiar enough with most of these hacks to recognize them. I'm sure they are to, so I hope they all have a sense of humor as they pound out their trashy dreck all the way to the bank.
I only hope there is a sequel and a movie version starring John Cusack and a spin-off TV series.
And just in case you haven't been following my Twitter feed, I am now only 101 other patrons away from getting my own copy of The Lost Symbol from the library.
Hat tip to Sue T. for recommending this book to me.