Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2014
Amy Gallup is an aging novelist and writing instructor living in Escondido, California, with her dog, Alphonse. Since recent unsettling events, she has made some progress. While she still has writer's block, she doesn't suffer from it. She's still a hermit, but she has allowed some of her class members into her life. She is no longer numb, angry, and sardonic: she is merely numb and bemused, which is as close to happy as she plans to get. Amy is calm.
So, when on New Year's morning she shuffles out to her backyard garden to plant a Norfolk pine, she is wholly unprepared for what happens next. Amy falls down. A simple accident, as a result of which something happens, and then something else, and then a number of different things, all as unpredictable as an eight-ball break. At first the changes are small, but as these small events carom off one another, Amy's life changes in ways that range from ridiculous to frightening to profound. This most reluctant of adventurers is dragged and propelled by train, plane, and automobile through an outlandish series of antic media events on her way to becoming - to her horror - a kind of celebrity. And along the way, as the numbness begins to wear off, she comes up against something she has avoided all her life: her future, that "sleeping monster, not to be poked."
Amy Falls Down explores, through the experience of one character, the role that accident plays in all our lives. "You turn a corner and beasts break into arias, gunfire erupts, waking a hundred families, starting a hundred different conversations. You crack your head open and three thousand miles away a stranger with Asperger’s jump-starts your career." We are all like Amy. We are all wholly unprepared for what happens next. Also, there’s a basset hound.
©2013 Jincy Willett (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
The author has a superb tone and style--wonderful command of language. Intelligent but also very accessible. The story steps outside of the same old plot-driven grinders--not that I don't like the old plot driven grinders. I do. But, if you are looking for something refreshing, honest and generous, this will do the trick.
This is not "chick lit." I'm sure this is a derogatory term... I'll rephrase: this is not a story of a twenty something girl living in Manhattan torn between a pair of lovers and a pair of shoes--nothing like that. I'm a man. I enjoyed this story. It's big on guts and skill.
The narrator does a great job matching the humor and tone.
I am a 67 yo disabled Vet who lives in N. Texas. I was a medic in the Army during the Viet Nam war, got an MS in ecology and just retired.
This is not normally my cup of tea. I'm sort of a military fiction/science-fiction/thriller/mystery kind of guy. I like a lot of action in my books and I don't like a lot of psychological mumbo-jumbo or romance or sex. Philosophy? OK. I can handle some of that, and there is plenty of philosophy found in this work. It's dished out in un-subtle slaps to the mug too, though not unkindly.
Plus, it's a very funny book, sort of in a "Stephanie Plum" funny way. However the protagonist, Amy, isn't young and fit and beautiful. She's in her 60s and sort of dumpy; and very anti-social, especially at the start of the book. When we meet her she has a basset hound and a couple of friends and teaches writing on-line and has a very messy house which she rarely leaves and which is filled with books she hasn't read.
In chapter one, she falls down. She's hit on the head and suffers a mild concussion.
What happens from there... Well, listen to the book. You'll enjoy it. I did, and I was surprised. Honestly I never would have bought this book but it was one of those books recommended by the narrators.
And, speaking of the narrator, Amy McFadden did a wonderful job on this book, catching the character's voices just right; hitting the proper ironic notes and also deadpanning the slapstick in the funniest ways. I laughed out loud while in inappropriate places, such as the grocery store, the pet store, the gas pump and one or two other public places I can't think of right now.
For me, this book was sort of like falling down and being hit on the head and suffering a mild concussion, metaphorically, and... I suppose... philosophically speaking.
This book is laugh out loud funny, I recommend it highly.
A comedy, A life study, A culture study, A yummy study of words, phrases and life in a delightful humorous and very sarcastic tale of an aging writer/author. Amy McFadden did an excellent job with the voices and pace, I especially loved her voice for Maxine!! I loved this book!
Good, expressive, clear
Too many to list.
While this book was humorous in places, I was mostly bored. When I start "dreading" to listen to a book, instead of "can't wait to get back to it," then I know it's not for me. I didn't finish it.
The reviews about this book led me to believe it was funny and enjoyable. It was very difficult to connect with the characters, to follow the narrator and to follow the story line. 5 chapters in and I'm calling it a day and returning this book.
Anything Fanny Flagg
The story telling could have been more dynamic and voices for characters could have been more distinct
I will stick with authors I am familiar with or who come recommended by friends
I didn't dislike the book, but it didn't grab me either. It occupied my mind as I drove to and from work. Unlike some other books, it never grabbed me enough to sit in the driveway listening after I got home.
I love this book and I want to recommend it to everyone, especially those who are seriously wide-read, "bookish" people who have at least some familiarity with the literary scene, writers' workshops, and the angst of being an aspiring writer (or even a published one).
If this book puts you off because of the pink cover and all the people who have shelved it as "chick-lit" — ignore that nonsense. Jincy Willett only writes "chick-lit" if you think a book by a woman about a woman is by definition chick-lit. Amy Falls Down is "writer-lit."
You should also know that this book is a sequel to "The Writing Class," which is unfortunately not available on Audible. However, it's a sequel only in the sense that follows chronologically with the same main character. There are some references to the events in the previous book, but you don't have to read it first. Though you really should, because The Writing Class was also wonderful and the reason I discovered Jincy Willett.
Amy Gallup is a writer. A dumpy, sixty-something writer who had a brief moment when she was in her twenties, as a "writer to watch out for." She wrote several books that received critical acclaim but only modest sales, and then, for reasons that only slowly emerge in this book, reasons that she herself can't fully articulate, she stopped. She hasn't written much of anything for thirty years. When we first met her in The Writing Class, she was making a meager living teaching creative writing as adjunct faculty at a community college. That book was our introduction to Jincy Willett's scathing and hilarious (yet affectionate) send-up of the modern writing scene, and a cozy-ish murder mystery.
Then Willett comes along and writes Amy Falls Down, in which there is no murder, no mystery, and not even that much of a plot. Yet it's every bit as good as the first book — in fact, possibly better. It reads like something Willett wrote just because she felt like writing it. Which is perfectly congruent with her protagonist, Amy Gallup, who writes when she feels like it, which hasn't been for thirty years.
In the first chapter of this book, Amy falls down. And hits her head on a birdbath. Which gives her a concussion. By coincidence, she had an interview scheduled for that afternoon. A reporter, doing a story on "washed up writers - where are they now?" (not phrased quite that unkindly) was supposed to come to her house to talk to her. To her horror, Amy realizes that she gave the interview and can't even remember it. She goes to the hospital, meets a nice doctor who is, like apparently almost all doctors, a wannabe novelist himself, and then gets a call from her former agent, who informs her that she has suddenly generated "buzz" because of her interview.
As Amy suddenly finds herself attracting (unwanted) attention for the first time in years, she also finds herself writing stories again for the first time in years.
The story is ostensibly the resurrection of Amy's writing career, a resurrection she never dreamed about, cared about, or particularly wanted. Along the way, she attends writers' conferences, bookshop appearances, and radio talk shows in which, pushed once too often, she turns her rarely-deployed but devastating wit on a windbag host and generates more publicity for herself by taking him apart on the air.
You can also see thinly-disguised representations of prominent contemporary authors, bestsellers, in the fictitious authors Amy meets. I won't name names because Jincy Willett is a lot better-read than I am and probably was thinking of completely different names than the ones I thought she was satirizing, but the beauty of her characterization is that every one of these people is real, hilarious, sometimes likable and sometimes buffoonish, but no one is a cartoon. Much of the book is spent inside Amy's head and her interior monologue, which is maybe why people insist on calling this "chick lit" (it's not), but Amy's thought process is human and funny and real, and gives you a glimpse of what a real writer can do when writing about real people with messy, complicated lives even if they are, from the outside, perfectly mundane ones lacking any sort of novelistic drama and adventure.
I hesitate to identify Amy as an author stand-in, even though the similarities between her and her author are too obvious to be ignored. Because I can picture Jincy Willett reading my review and letting out an exasperated sigh about readers who think they're smarter than they are. Not that she'd say anything, because like Amy Gallup, I imagine that Jincy Willett may find people exasperating and annoying, but she doesn't have the cruel streak necessary to actively mock them even if they deserve it.
Since I listened to Amy Falls Down on audio, I can't easily type all the quotable passages I want to fill this review with. Just take my word for it that there is lots of quote material. Willett writes with wit and humor and warmth and sometimes just enough of a sharp edge to let you know that, like Amy, she could really cut you down if she wanted to. But she won't, because she's too nice.
The subplot, with some members of her writing class from the previous book setting up an "authors' retreat," is almost incidental, and for much of the middle section of this book I thought Willett had dropped it completely. It gets wrapped up at the every end, with enough humor to justify its inclusion, but it seems like mostly a bone thrown to readers of the first book. It does, however, continue to skewer the foibles and pretensions of writer wannabes, writer gurus, writers' workshops, and the entire industry that has grown around those who fancy themselves enamored of "the writing life."
The sense of humor of the main character, and how it carried her through the trials and tribulations of her life.
Amy, of course!
Laugh, a lot.
The narration was perfect.
As long as I have my Audible, I'm content.
This book seemed like the author just had a bunch of story plots and didn't know what to do with them, so she just wrote a book about a writer where she could dump them all into one book without developing them.
As I'm not a writer, I don't really care so much about the process as I do the finished product, so this was of no interest to me. Writers might find it fun, even inspirational. I wanted to know more about Amy and her dog and her life. As it was, this book just bored me. I got halfway through and gave up. Maybe it would have redeemed itself, but there are too many good books out there to waste another 5 hours on this one, and many of the other reviews confirmed my suspicion that it wouldn't come around.
I loved this book. I loved Amy. I loved her refusal to care about so many of the things our society worships. I loved her dog. I loved her ability and willingness to look at both herself and the absurdity of modern life, in particular the world of writers, with honesty.
If I was going to compare Willett's writing to anyone, it might be Fran Lebowitz, but not quite so cutting.
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