Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Rejected Writers' Book Club - by Suzanne Kelman: Book Review

Well. 
I read it. 
I read this book in one sitting. It makes it easier to read. I made the mistake of reading it in fragments, a few pages here, a few pages on the bus to work, some more on the way home, maybe a few pages before I went to sleep. I read it on my Kindle, and the last 30% of the book was read in one sitting. It was a tad better up than until that point, but this is a "what have I just read?!" kind of book.

I picked this book because: 1) its cover 2) the description 3) it was about books. Sure. About books. Except the characters of this book are writers who don't want to get published. They maybe wanted to at some point, but down the road of book writing&publishing they decided that getting rejection letters for their books is way better and fun, fun, fun! What's more, they now have a book club with all the literary rejectees of their small town, and oh, the fun they have reading the rejection letters and adding them to their rejection scrapbook! You just wait for the party they'll have when they collect 500 rejection letters. 

SERIOUSLY!

This is a pretty unbelievable plot. Literally unbelievable. What kind of writer is that that doesn't want to be published? Sure, you like to write, but if you are not interested in getting your book out there, why submit the manuscript? Makes no sense. 

The drama one of the characters, Doris Newberry, created when her manuscript was accepted was plain fake. This whole drama was pretty much what created the novel. If you can overlook what triggered a road trip to San Francisco to retrieve the accepted manuscript from the publisher, maybe you will be able to look at this book with a bit more sympathy. The road trip portion of the book was somewhat enjoyable (if you can look past Doris' captain attitude).

The main character is Janet Johnson, a librarian. She is accepted in this special group of the rejected writers because she is "a book person" and she can help Doris and her gang recover the manuscript. As fate and predictability would have it, Janet's pregnant daughter, who lives in San Francisco with her husband, suddenly needs her mother, although according to Janet, their relationship is distant and she fondly calls her daughter "my ice child". I don't even want to start talking about how weird and not real that relationship was described. It was more like two strangers, or maybe a toddler and a mom on needles all the time. Anyway, both the "mean" publisher and the icy daughter live in San Francisco, so down there will the crazy troop go. Their road trip and the adventures during those few days were cute and bearable to read. I still rolled my eyes a lot and thought Doris was annoying and over-exaggerated everything. This could have all been prevented if Janet would have refused to be bossed around by Doris in the first place. But she needs friends and she accepts this club membership, so stop complaining, Janet!

They succeed in their mission. Guess what? Her manuscript was accepted accidentally because of a clumsy clerk's mistake. Doris got her rejection letter, and because they were at a publishing conference, they also got a bunch of other rejection letters from various publishers. This feels a bit like cheating, but yay! they got their letters and a party is in the near future. Fun!

To make an already weird and time-wasting book even worse, we are given the play by play of the plot of a soap opera one of the characters (Annie) is watching on the road trip. Imagine a cliche relationship between a married boss and his married secretary; bet you don't expect an alien child out of their affair! 

Also, the raccoon problem Janet and her husband have is constant and drags for too long. How about calling pest control, guys? You have been living here for a few years now. Deal with it!

What I really, really liked and thought cute was Doris' mother's story. It was probably the best subplot of the novel.

Flora's relationship with Dan was also cute, and I can overlook the cliche feel it has because Flora was a nice character.

I am clearly *not* the public for this book. The tone was light and it had some funny passages, but because the plot was so poor, some characters were annoying (Doris, mostly!), and it had such a feel of something that's not very credible, I can't say I liked this book.

This is the first book in the Southlea Bay series. Indeed I will not read the sequels.

List of Characters:
Southlea Bay - the small town
Janet Jackson - librarian
Martin - her husband
Stacy - her daughter
Christopher - Stacy's daughter
Doris Newberry - a writer. gets her manuscript accepted and freaks out
Annie - writers dog stories
Flora - shy. writes poems. works at a flower shop 
Lavinia & Lottie - twins. Lavinia - writes romance. Lottie - religious writings
Gracie - Doris' mother. wants to have her memoir published
Ruby-Skye - owns a knitting shop, volunteers at the library, writer horror
Ethel - friend of Doris, doesn't trust Janet, doesn't trust anyone
Dan - car mechanic, Flora's boyfriend

I requested (some regrets here) a copy of this book via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

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