This is the funniest book I (RE, not JRL, thankyouverymuch) have read in years. Really! It's so funny it made me wonder why funny novels are so rare. Why can't novels be as funny as, say, Jon Stewart, or even David Sedaris?
How I Became A Famous Novelist is that funny. It's about a guy who decides to write a bestseller by imitating all the cliches in the books on the NYTimes list -- books like A Whiff of Gingham and Pecorino (life in a villa in Sicily), Nick Boyle's ShockBlade: Lynchpin (a thriller), and especially Kindness to Birds, a feel-good road-trip novel by his soon-to be-nemesis. It works! And then he finds himself turning into what he hated. Of course there is much opportunity for Hely to skewer the institutions and people that writers both love and hate, like publishers, and other writers. The story itself is just an over-the-top romp, but Hely manages to carry the antic energy almost to the end. Chapter after chapter, it keeps being funny.
Here are some of the rules that Pete Tarslaw, Hely's hero, distills from the bestseller list:
Rule 1: Abandon truth
Rule 4: Must include a murder
Rule 5: Must include a club, secrets/mysterious missions, characters whose lives change suddenly, suprising love affairs, women who've give up on love but who turn out to be beautiful
Rule 6: Evoke confusing sadness at the end
Rule 16: Include plant names
Oh, it's just so much fun. One wonders why this book -- which makes fun of almost every other book and writer in existence -- didn't get more attention. Then again, maybe it's obvious.