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VINE VOICEon 30 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This black comedy, about the travails of publishing as seen by a serially-unpublished young wannabe bestselling author and a respected old publisher of translated works beleaguered by the financial world he is now forced to work in, could have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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on 12 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Readable and funny, Bestseller is a light-hearted but cutting look at the world of publishing. Filled with desperate authors who will do almost anything to get published, shark-like publishers and the occasional good guy with absolutely zero commercial nous, this hilarious novel plays upon almost every stereotype that you might imagine when you think about wannabe authors and the world of publishing.

Jim Talbot writes novels compulsively, convincing himself each time that the next one will be a bestseller. Or, if he's honest with himself, that it will get published at all. With equal regularity, publishing houses fire back rejection letters, depressingly standard and all claiming that Jim's manuscripts 'won't fit with the current direction of our publishing'.

On the other side of the fence, Charles is the aging editorial director of a publishing house that's just been bought out. It seems that Charles's penchant for publishing obscure Hungarian poets on top-quality paper with tiny print runs has not boded well for the business side of things... and the money-hungry buyers are determined to make some big changes to further their evil empire and make a quick buck (or, I suppose, British pound). Yet, despite his total lack of commercial nous, Charles is a sweetie with a genuine love of the written word.

And, through a series of misunderstandings, unfortunate accidents and underhanded manoeuvres, the whole plot of the book comes together in a hilarious muddle of publishing-related humour.

A lovely book - very funny, very readable, and even a bit thought-provoking when it comes to thinking about what gets published and why. Thoroughly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( 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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VINE VOICEon 30 May 2010
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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VINE VOICEon 2 May 2010
What I really like about this novel is that it looks at publishing from both sides. On the authorial side we have Jim Talbot, a writer who has written many unpublished novels and who, in spite of repeated knockbacks, still believes he will be published one day. On the publishing side there is Charles Randall an eccentric publisher whose company has been taken over and who shambles off to found a new company, Vivus. Interestingly, although you might think the two are destined to come together in a happy ending with Randall taking on Talbot and publishing him to the benefit of both, the author takes a different path. Randall is a fascinating character. A publisher who also writes poetry, a shambling chaos of a man, he is exasperating and likeable at the same time. Talbot is an altogether less sympathetic character. He represents a highly egotistical writer who will do anything to get published.

I suspect that this novel will appeal mainly to those who have some knowledge of the publishing world or who want to get an insider's look at it. As someone who has had some contact with writers, agents and publishers it rings true to me. I found it funny, interesting and highly readable. I loved it.
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VINE VOICEon 26 August 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 6 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A great, if uncomfortable read, especially for those of us sending off submissions on a regular basis without any success! The publishing industry is laid bare - all its intrigues and money-grabbing schemes. Charles Randall is the loveable, old fashioned publisher, owner of a small press, appallingly treated by the the hot shots who have taken over his firm and booted him out. Jim Talbot stands for us all - desperate to get into print and willing to exploit even his sick mother to achieve it. Well, perhaps not the exploiting the sick mother bit, but we'd all like to get into print wouldn't we?

The action is well paced and the characters are fabulous, you can really see the people in this book. Vengence is served - hot and cold, and the ending is a dream! I look forward to reading more of Alessandro Gallenzi, witty, pithy and sharp - a real page turner.
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on 12 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a well written tale of a struggling author, but as a satire it never really sinks its teeth in. We're not really given a hero, just a melange of slightly pathetic characters who I assume are intended to be parodies. Despite being nicely written, and well-readable it misses its target. I can only assume the marketing quote of 'a Conrad on the way' was itself an attempt at humour.

Still, it kept me interested enough to read it cover to cover and as a story in itself its not bad, but for a satire? Well, the world of publishing with its pomposity and mix of bland megasellers and obscure geniuses is a huge target to not score a direct hit with but unfortunately this book manages to miss completely. For that alone, for not living up to its promise, its something of a disappointment.
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2010
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Alessandro Gallenzi, a novelist, playwright, poet and publisher,writes with an insiders knowledge about the publishing business, and if it is in real life as he tells it, I would not be surprised if he needed counselling. His characters are a mixture of losers and money grabbing sharks, and none of them emerges with any credit.

In addition, his writing style is a bit laboured and I found it difficult at some points to summon enough enthusiasm to turn the page. That said, anyone in the publishing business, might find something to amuse them within the covers of this novel. For the general fiction reader, I'm afraid I can't recommend this book although it's inspired title, emblazoned on the cover, may have the desired effect on sales.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Much like "The Girl With The Hornets Nest Tattoo", Bestseller is obviously the a thinly veiled, dramatized autobigraphy. Whilst a man is never truer with himself than when he is wearing a mask, and all art is autobiography to an extent - albeit in some way unrecognizable - this novel is transparent and straightforward, clearly embellishing a reality that exists for every budding novelist. Sadly, it therefore sounds and reads a lot like the grumbles and greivances of a person who wants an idealised world of publishing. It may be entertaining and often callously funny, but it is lacking in nuance or distance, and you can draw a clear line between the writers life, and his work.
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