Bestseller by Alessando Gallenzi
This black comedy, about the travails of publishing as seen by a serially-unpublished young wannabe bestselling author and a respected old publisher of translated works beleaguered by the financial world he is now forced to work in, could have been really hilarious – if say David Lodge or Tom Sharpe had written it.
Instead, it is rather average. The characters, with the exception of gentleman publisher Charles and his PA, are absolutely ghastly. All the stereotypes you could think of are there, and their worst sides all come out in the bidding war for a fictional call-girl’s memoirs. It’s not bad, it’s got a few laughs, and Scott Pack and the Friday Project even get a mention! However it’s lacking bite. It’s a book that’s not quite made its mind up whether it’s to be an out and out tragedy or satire, and has settled intead for being a comedy-drama – very ITV!
The author is an insider – being a publisher himself, (of ’neglected and translated classics’ at Hesperus), and although it’s a depressing view of his own industry, it’s still a bit cosy. Indeed this book is published on another imprint that he founded – does that make it self-published? (teehee!). Industry insiders will doubtless enjoy it and get all the in jokes that went over my head.
Ultimately it’s backward looking rather than anticipating the next publishing sensation – which would have been much more fun. But will it be a bestseller – sadly probably not. (6/10, book chosen from a list supplied by the Amazon Vine programme)
Thinking of comic novels and Tom Sharpe – I think it could be time for a re-read of Porterhouse Blue or maybe Wilt, both of which skewer the worlds of higher education so thoroughly. I also remember saying that this is the year I’ll start reading P.G.Wodehouse – a stack of Jeeves & Wooster and Blandings await…
Can you recommend any great comic novels that I should read?