How I Became A Famous Novelist

by Steve Hely, published by Black Cat – paperback original imprint of Grove Atlantic – 2009

I read two reviews of this, both full of praise, so I got a copy.

There is much humor here, but this isn’t really a funny book, it’s one that tries to be funny, and succeeds some of the time. That could just be me. It’s been said more than once that I don’t have much of a sense of humor. Still, I understand how to laugh and my funny bone gets tickled now and then, though that didn’t happen often while reading this book.

Pete Tarslaw doesn’t like work. When he loses his job ghosting college entrance essays, he decides he can write a best-seller. He wants the book to have some literary aspects, but understands too much of that will turn off the bestseller crowd. He comes up with a plot, embellishes it with every gimmick he can think of, then sits down and writes the book.

Through a series of happy accidents the book is published and does make it onto the NY Times bestseller list. In the course of this happening, and afterwards, Tarslaw goes through  Series of situations involving his grandmother, authors, critics, a strange roommate, talk show hosts and other authors, of whom he’s either in awe or feels a complete lack of respect. The book is episodic, some of it funny, some not so much.

To those who laughed and chortled throughout this, I say “good for you”. To those not sure whether to try the book, I suggest reading a few pages before buying. Then again, there’s always the library, which is where I got my copy. It goes back tomorrow.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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5 Responses to How I Became A Famous Novelist

  1. George Kelley says:

    The two funniest (and barbed) novels I’ve read about writers were both written by Martin Amis: MONEY and THE INFORMATION. Great books, highly recommended.

  2. Richard says:

    I probably shouldn’t even try the funny ones, George. At least not now when I’m stressed out.

  3. George Kelley says:

    How can you be stressed out, Rick? You’re retired!

  4. Richard says:

    Too long and complicated a story for the world to grasp, George. Suffice it to say that on the way home I had to deal with some clashing rocks, a guy with one eye and some singing chicks.

    Or maybe that was some other guy and all I did was get stuck on the freeway.

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    We need to hear more of that story, Rick. Sounds like a hardboiled pi novel!

    I’m reading the book now, by the way, and while so far I wouldn’t rave the way Crider did I like it a bit more than you did. I’ll let you know when I finish.

    Oh, I also got it from the library.

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