One of the funniest books I've ever read, by a writer for the NBC series The Office, has just been awarded the 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor. Great choice! I wrote a review of this book that was posted elsewhere; with the news of the award I am reposting it below:
Pete Tarslaw, the protagonist of How I Became a Famous Novelist, by Steve Hely, wants to ditch his job fabricating college entry essays for rich applicants. He also wants to upstage his ex-girlfriend at her wedding. In his endeavor to become a novelist, “my ambitions were simple: to learn the con, make money, impress women, and get out.” In writing his completely over-the-top novel, The Tornado Ashes Club, Pete splices together various elements common to literature that appeals to the masses.
The book skewers prototypes of popular authors and the formulas they follow. A fictional New York Times bestseller list is even contained in the book, which ridiculously amplifies popular taste.
How I Became a Famous Novelist is hilarious in a bitingly sarcastic way. In fact, despite quickly laughing my way through it, I sometimes required a break from the constant snarky humor (not a criticism). You need to appreciate the tone to like this book. In its last pages, the book gets earnest all of a sudden. It has, however, provided more than enough entertainment by that point to render it a worthwhile read.