Monday, March 20, 2017

What we're reading: Comedy fiction

Reviewed by Laura M., Reference Librarian

Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willet, is a comedic novel about Amy Gallup, a once critically acclaimed writer whose books have been out of print for a couple of decades. She’s been making a living teaching online writing workshops when a fan and reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune decides to interview her for a sort of “Where are they now?” piece.

The only problem is, right before the reporter shows up, Amy falls in her backyard and knocks herself out on her birdbath. She revives quickly, but ends up giving such a bizarre interview that it goes viral. Her old literary agent gets back in touch with her, and starts her on a whirlwind media tour to capitalize on this newfound fame. Prodded by her agent, Amy starts writing again and becomes something of a sensation.

Amy is such a forthright, cantankerous character, she is impossible not to like. Now in her sixties, she doesn’t suffer fools lightly, but when she decides to be kind it makes you love her even more. Throughout the course of the story, you see her soften towards the wacky characters who populate her life--most notably her pushy agent, Maxine, to whom she hadn’t spoken in years before the viral interview came out. The evolution of their working relationship is more masterfully done than most romantic comedies I’ve read.

That being said, there is a scene where Amy is in fine form reading submissions for a writer’s workshop she will be teaching, wherein she critiques the writing so ferociously and hilariously that I was in tears from laughing so hard. I think aspiring writers could learn quite a lot from this book. It takes on the publishing industry and what it means to be a writer in the age of social media, as well as the writer’s greater place in society.

Willet has written a novel that is at once smart, bitingly funny and sentimental. I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in writing and publishing (or to anyone who just needs a good laugh).

Editor's note: Although this book stands alone, it is actually the author's second book about the life of Amy; the first is called The Writing Class, which is more of a murder mystery involving the members of her class. BPL doesn't own that book; but after Laura's review of this one, perhaps we will purchase it!

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