How I Became A Famous Novelist

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today I got to find out what it's like to read a book and blog about it while in the midst of a mild case of the flu. It's perverse to say this, but I've actually been looking forward to this kind of blogging challenge all year, and have had moments of disappointment that I haven't been truly tested as a blogger yet. That's right, I've actually complained about not getting the flu. I whine when something goes wrong and I whine when something goes right. In other words, I'm turning into a character from Thirtysomething.

I didn't have all that much trouble reading the book - helped along by the fact that the flu didn't hit until 5:30 in the evening (so basically, I've been sick for slightly over two hours and I'm already acting like I've lived through an illness of epic proportions.) But when it came time to begin writing this blog entry I finally met with my first real flu-related blogging challenge, a lack of coherency that resulted in me getting really upset that the picture of today's book wasn't in desktop where I put it . . . and then I realized that it wasn't there because I hadn't actually saved it to desktop yet. So, I'm off and rolling and not in a good direction. I'm going to do my best to imitate a coherent blogger for the rest of this entry, but I can't make you any promises dear readers (although I've been told that I'm amusing when I'm sick - apparently I whine in an amusing fashion.)

Today's book, "Biting, hilarious and improbably affectionate, comedy writer Hely's debut skewers the literary world with a send up of the quest to write the Great American Novel. Words are Pete Tarslaw's thing, and after watching a bestselling novelist prattle on about the truth, his calling, and other ridiculous ideas on TV, Pete concludes that the sole way to save face at his ex-girlfriend's upcoming wedding is to become a famous novelist himself. His quest to construct a by-the-numbers bestseller is guided by rules like At dull points include descriptions of delicious meals, and where to live."

Shallow, illness-induced thoughts:

  • While I can't agree with the book description and call this book hilarious - I do think it was amusing - and the perfect book to read while sick, not to heavy, not too sappy, and it didn't require much brain power. It was just a fun, light book - but then I should have known it would be a good book, because People magazine has never steered me wrong yet (except for when it comes to CD's.)

  • And now dear readers, we simply must talk about how much I enjoy books that acknowledge the readers. It's one of the things that I love most about my favorite books from the 40s and 50s. But it's something that I rarely see in books written in the present day, and I find that almost as sad as people not wearing hats and white gloves anymore. Readers deserve to be recognized, plain and simple.

  • Favorite sentence, "Before long, Mom was paying me to write thank-you notes for her, a dollar a pop." - I love this idea, not only because I am lazy, but also because I write the worst thank you notes ever. I have two methods of writing them: 1. the thank you note that sounds more like a casual e-mail and never quite strikes the right tone, which is actually preferable to the other method 2. thank you notes that are so over-the-top schmaltzy, so filled with Hallmark card sentiments, that I actually feel the need to apologize to people when they acknowledge that they have received the note I sent. I'm so sorry that you had to read that. That must have been just awful for you. I can't seem to thank a person as if they have given me a simple gift and instead end up thanking them as if they have given me one of their kidneys - it's absolutely mortifying.

  • Favorite passage, "Sadly a memoir isn't an option for me, because my youth had been tragically happy. Mom never had the foresight to hit me or set me to petty thieving or to enlist us in a survivalist cult. I wasn't even from the South, which wouldn't bought a few dozen pages. Lying wouldn't work; these days memoir police seem to emerge to make sure you truly had it bad. And the bar for bad is high - reviewers have no patience for standard-issue alcoholics and battered wives anymore." - I have often lamented (where the hell did that word come from, I've never used that word before in my life, I think illness is actually increasing my vocabulary) my own lack of a childhood tragedy to write about. Actually, that's not completely true (illness also makes me dishonest apparently) I've actually always thought that literature will cycle around just like fashion does, and eventually people will grow bored with the tragic memoirs and want to read about someone whose spent childhood passed happily, and then I'm going and I'm going to be all ready with my sickeningly happy tale of a childhood where the worst thing that ever happened was someone made fun of my braids on the school bus (I was in a Laura Ingalls hair phase) and then I'll become a literary sensation and hire a personal assistant and I will force him to change his name to Henderson, and every morning I'm going to make him lists of things to do, written on really nice stationary and sealed in an envelope, which I will slip under the bedroom door of the servants quarters . . . I'm sorry dear readers - you'll have to excuse that last part - being sick generally means that I end up having more pretend time than usual and sometimes things get out of hand.

And now I have to go deal with my illness in the only acceptable way, by eating lots of carbohydrates and watching massive amounts of bad TV.