Monday, December 20, 2010

How I Became a Famous Novelist

Different, but okay in a weird way. The whole story is good, but last two pages made me yearn for so much more (you'll see). Total hipster appeal, comparable to The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walters. Both protagonists are on a desperate quest for literary success, but while Walter's character is absolutely earnest in his sincere efforts to write a financial newsletter in verse, Hely's character couldn't be more contemptuous of writing and is entirely focused on the wealth and fame he expects will come after publication of his book, The Tornado Ashes Club.

I've been scouring my Internet history trying to remember where I heard about this 2009 title, but with no luck. Damned RSS readers that leave no breadcrumb trail I can follow...

Anywho, somebody liked this book well enough to write an enticing review, and I took the bait. Here's the NPR interview of the author on Fresh Air, along with a good chunk of chapter 1. And if IMDB is to be trusted, we can expect to see it in a movie theater in 2012.

p. 50, when Pete Tarslaw is planning out the type of book to write:
"Not including a murder in your book is like insisting on playing tennis with a wooden racket. Noble perhaps in some stubborn way, but why handicap yourself? [...]
Writing an updated version of some public domain story seemed like a worry-free route to literary success. A ready-made plot would keep my mental effort to a minimum. It would just be gussying up the SparkNotes, really. In my notebook I wrote down a few ideas: Oliver Twist in exclusive San Diego gated community? Huckleberry Finn with a hovercraft? Hamlet but he loves sudoku? Iliad among Hawaiian surfer chicks? But these all seemed tough to maintain past the first hundred pages." (emphasis and hyperlink is mine)

1 comment:

Titianlibrarian said...

Because I can't resist a nod to my alma mater. p. 110, Pete giving his Aunt Evelyn's backstory when he decides he's going to write his novel on a three week trip to his aunt's rustic maple sugaring farm in Vermont:
"The Story of Aunt Evelyn: Once Evelyn was a famously fierce lawyer. [...] That was the same year she announced she was a lesbian. This didn't bother anyone in our family, a fact which I think disappointed her because she was fired up to smoke any opposition. After that she mellowed out. She got a girlfriend, Margaret, who was only a few years older than me. Margaret had captained the Smith College rugby team to the national championship. [...] A year or two later, Evelyn announced that she was quitting the law. She and Margaret were going to move up to Vermont to open a maple sugar distillery. That was the kind of thing you could do if you didn't have kids, my mom had commented ruefully."