Amy Reads Books

How I Became a Famous Novelist

How I Became a Famous Novelist - Steve Hely 4.5 starsI'm currently feeling a little bit stupid for not having made notes on this novel before I left for my holiday; but I shall try and review it best as I can; especially as I actually really enjoyed this book. In the wake of Fifty Shades storming the best selling book list, the idea of what makes a popular novel has been under scrutiny again. Pete Tarslow, the main character of Hely's novel, decides to create a book that ticks all the boxes that'll make it a huge success.The novel is a fictional memoir of Tarslow as he recounts how he went from writing university application letters for international students for a shady businessman's company to climbing up the bestseller list with his novel The Tornardo Ashes Club. He is not the most sympathetic character in the world, not by any stretch of the imagination, and whilst he attempts to show his motivations I did really struggle to feel any form of pity for him. However, as with Ian McEwan's Solar; Hely succeeds in not totally alienating the reader from his protagonist meaning that I remained involved in the novel, despite my dislike of Pete.The main selling point of this novel for me was the fact that it's a real book lovers book, spoofing popular and even literary fiction lovingly. Hely is so dedicated that he even creates a mock New York Times bestsellers list, although they are recognisable novels peppered throughout it. There are nods to writers like Dan Brown James Patterson, Lee Child, Lauren Weisberger, Malcolm Gladwell and even Jonathan Safran Foer, which made my inner literary geek very happy. Despite Hely pointing out the slight formulaic factors that propel a novel to the top, and the fact that Tarslow's prose is quite awful but not that far away from some writers who attempt to be lyrical in their writing; the overall message of the novel is one that points out that the best authors really believe in what they're doing-and that the fame that comes with it is usually just a side effect.The novel is pretty laugh out loud funny throughout, and I enjoyed Hely's glimpses into Pete's novel, and into the other novels that dominated the bestseller lists. The only flaw really was the fact that the other characters were perhaps not quite as fleshed out as they could have been, but that was probably due to the fact that the novel takes place purely from the perspective of Pete-who was pretty self-interested.If you love reading and know a fair bit about popular fiction, I really recommend How I Became a Famous Novelist.