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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously funny, depressingly true
As an unpublished writer of novels that have been unsuccessfully submitted to countless agents, I found this book one of the funniest, saddest, truest things I've ever read.

The story begins with Jim, a compulsive writer of a dozen still-unpublished novels, who will do anything to gain the fame and fortune he knows he deserves. Then we meet Charles Randall, the...
Published on 29 Mar 2010 by marcoscu

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An 'ish' novel about publishing - funny-ish, enjoyable-ish, farcical-ish
This black comedy, about the travails of publishing as seen by a serially-unpublished young wannabe bestselling author and a respected old publisher of translated works beleaguered by the financial world he is now forced to work in, could have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,...
Published on 30 April 2010 by Annabel Gaskell


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An 'ish' novel about publishing - funny-ish, enjoyable-ish, farcical-ish, 30 April 2010
By 
Annabel Gaskell "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
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This black comedy, about the travails of publishing as seen by a serially-unpublished young wannabe bestselling author and a respected old publisher of translated works beleaguered by the financial world he is now forced to work in, could have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 a blogging friend of mine even gets a positive 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 quality reprints of out of print gems at Hesperus), and although it's a depressing view of his own industry, it's still a bit cosy. 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 26 Aug 2010
By 
S. Day (Ewell, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
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There were one or two unsubtle leaps in the narrative, a few characters were clunkily didactic at times and the satire was muted and self-evident, but overall I really enjoyed this novel. The characters seemed pretty real to me and I even started liking some of them by the end. I do not agree with other reviewers who claim the plot was slow-moving; they must have read far better books than I as I thought it made good progress.

To draw an analogy with the world of cinema, Jim Talbot is a kind of Ed Wood. He's full of singleminded passion and enthusiasm, some might say tunnel vision, but still looking for that lucky break. This book chronicles his experiences and those whose lives he touches.

Beyond the world of literature, anyone who's experienced a corporate re-org will find something to smile at in this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars O seclum insipiens et infaectum, 4 Jun 2010
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
Read Bestseller, particularly if you think you've written one, and hope that it's not "too accurate". It's a hugely enjoyable story of an amoral aspiring writer, which reminds us that not all of us in Jim Talbot's boat are glowing specimens of humanity. Talbot's antithesis, the rejected and dejected publisher Charles Randall is not, I suspect, based on Gallenzi himself but must surely be based on any number of well-meaning publishers who find themselves overtaken by public taste and "the market". It's a shame that all the businessmen portrayed are so thoroughly disagreeable. The story is not as predictable as some of us jaded authors manque might hope and hopefully not every corner of the real world of publishing is as comically bleak as the author portrays it. Funny. As long as there are publishers like Mr. Gallenzi around I think we can assume that there are still pockets of sanity in the rabid modern publishing industry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously funny, depressingly true, 29 Mar 2010
By 
marcoscu "marcoscu" (Chorley,UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
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As an unpublished writer of novels that have been unsuccessfully submitted to countless agents, I found this book one of the funniest, saddest, truest things I've ever read.

The story begins with Jim, a compulsive writer of a dozen still-unpublished novels, who will do anything to gain the fame and fortune he knows he deserves. Then we meet Charles Randall, the founder of an independent press with a (justified) hatred of modern publishing and the loathsome corporate monkeys who sack him from his own company. Charles is the pivot on which the whole sorry tale revolves. He is the only one with any real integrity, the only one who still believes in the virtue of the printed - not published - word. They are the two ends of the circle, the wannabe writer who will do *anything* for success and the once-respected publisher who only wants the privilege of printing obscure Hungarian poets in fine bindings.

Bestseller is, in many ways, an old-fashioned novel with a proper beginning, a cracking-good middle and a proper end in which pretty much everyone gets their just deserts - the fat-cat businessmen who swallow up Charles' beloved, dusty company, the mink-coat -no-knickers hacks who do their bidding, even poor Jim whose humanity has become entirely subsumed by his ever-more desperate need to publish, gets the end he probably deserves and probably needs, too, as does Helen, the cappuccino girl he tries to exploit.

The novel carries a one line review by Tibor Fischer, `Too accurate, too depressing.' As Alessandro Gallenzi is the founder of a number of small imprints, translator, poet and writer, it has to be assumed that the `hero' of the story, Charles Randall, is based on the author, or at least on his experiences in the trade.

It's certainly an education into the ways of the publishing world, if a dispiriting one and for anyone who has ever had any dealings with publishers and agents, it serves only to confirm what we already knew.

Bestseller is an hilarious, heartbreaking page-turner which I finished in 2 sittings and which I highly recommend, whether you're trying to publish a book or not (but especially if you are).
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4.0 out of 5 stars You'll laugh, you'll groan, 19 Jan 2011
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
Entertaining black comedy about publishing. Skewers a world all too familiar to writers and editors. Slightly strained in parts but all in all, scathingly funny and too close for comfort.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Darkly comic, very caustic, rather grotesque, 21 Dec 2010
By 
Londonist (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
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I imagine that this darkly comic and sardonic tale might be enjoyed by anyone working in the publishing industry. I don't, and I found it very hard to engage with. The characters are rather heartless, the dialogue is somewhat bilious, the writing is decidedly grotesque. The novel is set in London and London placenames appear on almost every page, but as a Londoner, I did not recognise the city in these pages. I did not even recognise my fellow human beings. There is a great deal of grimacing and clever manoevering, very little atmosphere, and not much in the way of humanity. A streak of misanthropy, a mile wide. Not recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Daft farce, but fun, 23 July 2010
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This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
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Practically every fiction author at some stage or another gets around to writing a book about the world of books; sometimes writing about writing is all they do (naming no Paul Austers). It all seems so precious, as if they're writing for their fellow writers, not for readers.

Allesandro Gallenzi dispenses with such navel-gazing, offering a ribald farce that punctures the delusions of the literati. Maybe it's because he's a publisher, who knows that for all its aspirations to transcendent art, is just as dirty a business as any other. Not profound, but great fun.
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3.0 out of 5 stars life imitates art imitates life imitates..., 17 Jun 2010
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A book for all budding authors, something that perhaps should be handed out with the course materials of every creative writing class for all those people who think that the book they have written is a masterpiece that multiple agents and publishers will be fighting over. James Lee Burke holds the record for the most rejections - 109 times the Lost Get Back Boogie was rejected as I recall from memory - yet most budding writers expect especially now that they will become instant bestsellers. This book is an insider's look at how things really are and how the industry works in all its hilarious and depressing glory.

I am assuming that the book is a bit of a roman à clef, thinly disguising the author's own experiences in trying to get his books published. It is a little ironic that he has now finally got his book published but to do so, he used his own publishing house! Not all of us can be so lucky, so to all budding writers (how many times can I say that in one review!) and everyone interested in the publishing world,and the trials and tribulations of Jim our hero, pick up a copy of this book as a reality check. It's scarily accurate, demoralising and yet funny at the same time. Definitely a page turner.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Writer Writes About Writing, 30 May 2010
By 
I. Bullen (Wigan, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
Like comedy shows about making comedy shows, writing about the perils of writing for a living are fraught with dangers, not least of which is that of alienating anyone living outside that particular bubble.

Certainly, the first half of Bestseller treads close to that line, immersing us in the failing world of unpublished author, Jim and run-down publisher Charles. Both characters have major failings, failings which prevent any sympathy or empathy with them. Gallenzi writes well, and this skill ensured that I didn't stop reading when, in particular, Jim's increasingly deranged behaviour drifts towards the annoying. Indeed this behaviour, aiming towards the desperate lengths people will go to in order to achieve writing fame, instead inadvertently suggests a serious mental health problem (and what would possibly have been a more interesting novel).

As the plot comes together though, the pace picks up and the re-emergence of Charles in the publishing world lends an element of optimism that the opening of the book lacks and gives the reader something to attach themselves to.

All told, Bestseller is well-crafted, just a little too centred within the publishing bubble it seeks to prick. Interesting, but ultimately a little flat as a tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read before writing, 20 May 2010
By 
Mrs. R. "Polymath" (London, England, UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bestseller (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In the past month, two books about disillusioned writers have landed on the mat. This is the one to read. One hopes that it is a caricature of the industry that Alessandro Gallenzi works in, but one suspects that every single character has an uncomfortably close parallel in real life. What are the odds that he's met people just like the ones he describes, except perhaps the two Scottish sisters whose fate you'll have to find out for yourself? Good, I'd say.
Is Bestseller enough to dissuade aspiring novelists to walk away from the laptop and go do something sensible like learning plumbing? Probably not, because there is always the tiny but powerful hope that the publisher - the one with the chequebook already printed with five zeros - will walk into their lives and make their fortunes.
Gallenzi exposes publishing as gold rush business. Thousands of people work their fingers to the bone in the hope of striking the seam. The ones who make the money are the ones who are selling the shovels, or cooking breakfast, depending on which version of the gold rush metaphor you've heard before. The strange thing is that as a publisher himself, he's got his own shovel making enterprise - so he might as well do a bit of digging. To call his own book "Bestseller", he must have the darkest sense of humour in the business.
His writing is full of audacious, desperate people who do things that make you gasp. Oddly enough, even the awful ones still seem likeable in places, probably because they are beautifully described, still recognisable as human, despite their extreme behaviour. They are all rather normal, in situations that make them do unusual things. You can imagine people you know doing something like that if they were just pushed hard enough to topple them over the edge.
If you are writing your own novel, give yourself a break and read this, then get back to work; despite its best efforts Bestseller will probably just encourage you.
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Bestseller by Alessandro Gallenzi (Paperback - 9 April 2010)
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