Masterly how-to advice from TV comedy writer Hely’s fictional narrator about creating a bestseller—no, make that a “literary product.”
Hey, anybody can write a novel, right? That’s the thought going through Pete Tarslaw’s head when he reads about Preston Brooks’ bestseller Kindness to Birds. Tarslaw’s goals as a novelist can be reduced to a few simple wants: fame, money and getting a few hot chicks on the side. Tarslaw also has a more concrete goal—to humiliate his former girlfriend Polly at her wedding, upstaging her by arriving as a Famous Novelist. Although he sets to work avidly, keeping his eye on a few rules (abandon truth, do not waste energy making it a good book, at dull points include descriptions of delicious meals), he finds that writing a novel is hard work, and he doesn’t quite know how to get going. “Do you just start writing sentences?” he says. “That seemed a bit rash.” Fueled by an experimental pharmaceutical provided by his roommate, he manages to write his magnum opus, The Tornado Ashes Club. He eagerly plans to watch it rise meteorically on Amazon.com and even fantasizes laudatory reviews (“Love, loss, and the soul of truth are explored when a wrongly accused man goes on a road trip with his grandmother and a Mexican folksinger”). The reality, however, is somewhat different. As one respected reviewer comments, “It’s much like a Las Vegas buffet: everything’s there, but none of it’s very good.” Doesn’t matter, though, for the novel becomes something of a cult hit, especially after our hero trashes Preston Brooks’ reputation by accusing him of the very fault Tarslaw himself is guilty of: turning writing into a formulaic con game foisted on a naïve and unsuspecting reading public. In a sobering moment, Brooks defends himself against Tarslaw’s puerile comments.
A satiric, facetious and laugh-out-loud funny first novel.