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How I Became a Famous Novelist

by Steve Hely

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4974048,597 (3.69)28
"This is the story of [Pete] Tarslaw's effort to write the best-sellingest best seller of all time, and what its success costs him in the end."--Back cover.

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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A biting satire of modern literature.
I was a little worried that a novel satirizing modern literature might be a little on the meta side, but How I Became a Famous Novelist is down to earth and veers to keep a wide berth from being self-referential.
The fictional novels clearly give nod to real world counterparts and their titles and descriptions are the funniest part of the book.

For once, reading about a complete self-absorbed, under-productive scumbag is entertaining, rather than tedious. Likely, the insight into his own odious nature helps make the protagonist less tooth-grating. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
Maybe when I was twenty I would have been amused by this book, but at age forty I just thought, "why would I want to spend time with this unpleasant chap?" I stopped after one chapter.
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely is a novel about a novelist attempting to write a best-seller novel. Mr. Hely is a published author and television writer.

Pete Tarslaw wants to be famous so he could have money, women, and a life of leisure. Pete’s day job is to write essays for college students, it’s an easy job and he figures that he can write a best-selling novel.

Even though his novel is a “pile of garbage”, it becomes a best-selling, most blogged about, and even admired book. Success is not what Pete imagined, and when he starts telling the truth his ideals turn upside down.

This was a clever book about writing and the publishing industry, as well as a criticism of best-sellers. I have read many best-sellers which I didn’t think were well-written, interesting, or had something to say.
Some I couldn’t even finish.

How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely satirizes what all of us bibliophiles already know. The fictional author writes a book full of clichés, lyrical descriptions, and commonalities he found in other novels. These are carefully arranged to create a formalistic novel almost guaranteed to top the best-sellers’ list.
Or in his words “a pile of garbage”.

I find that attitude is condescending, people like to read what they like to read. Whether it would be romance, history, or even graphic novels.
Reading is reading.
No one is making fun of others for not liking certain foods, why would literature be any different?

Many of the books I read, few people even pick up. But I am not going to tell people that they have bad taste, and neither do you and for that matter neither does the New York Times or your literature professor.

As for the book, it is funny at times and makes some good points. Pete Tarslaw, our aspiring novelist, learns a cheesy lesson at the end, which kind of defeats the point of the satire. I liked the first half of the book about Pete’s development process. The second half, however, lost the wit and wink which made the novel engaging. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Dec 9, 2022 |
Got much better towards the end. A satisfying quick read. ( )
  ehershey | Mar 24, 2022 |
I laughed and laughed. Until he punched me in the gut. Wow. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I found this entirely charming, but I am a book geek. Then again, who knew about the Westminster Kennel Club before "Best in Show"? It is possible to write a good book about writing a bad book; Hely has done it.
Mr. Hely has deftly clobbered the popular-book business. He has taken aim at lucrative “tidy candy-packaged novels you wrapped up and gave as presents,” the kinds of books that go “from store shelves to home shelves to used-book sales unread.” His complaints about such books are very funny. They’d be even funnier if they weren’t true.
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You have to understand how bad things were for me back then.
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"This is the story of [Pete] Tarslaw's effort to write the best-sellingest best seller of all time, and what its success costs him in the end."--Back cover.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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