The picture was a reminder that ALL novels - even those from award-winning, A-list, income earning writers - start with a blinking cursor on the screen that ultimately yields a computer printed manuscript. Placing said manuscript on a round table’s center ringed by his published books, like the numbers on an oversized clock, is a stroke of marketing genius. It says to both readers and aspiring writers alike: LOOK! This little manuscript is almost ready for the book making oven, and in just a few months on broil, the hardback novel, complete with genius cover art and unmistakable new book smell, will be ready for consumption. (And yours could too, Mr/Ms Future Novelist!)
With travel in November and a hectic December, including FIVE family birthdays plus Christmas, I didn’t devour it right away. Instead, it’s remained on my growing ‘to-read’ list. Until this weekend, when I binge-read Nick Hornby’s latest, Funny Girl, in practically one continuous sitting.
As I’d hoped for and expected, Funny Girl’s another comedic, satirical gem. And as an aspiring novelist, DAMN HIM for making it seem so easy! In the unlikely event you don't know, Hornby wrote High Fidelity, About A Boy, and A Long Way Down (among others), all of which have been made into successful, quite enjoyable films. Adding to his increasing rank on my jealousy scale, Hornby's script An Education was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar, and he also recently adapted Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir Wild for the big screen (and should’ve been nominated for this year's Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar).
Funny Girl features an ensemble cast, told through multiple points of view, but the novel centers around the lovely and likable ‘Barbara from Blackpool’. As in his other novels, Hornby finds unique, believable voices for each principal character and creates clever, witty dialogue throughout. Despite the 1960's / England setting, the novel's a very accessible coming of age tale about pursuing professional passion while navigating early adult relationships, heartaches, and soul-sucking jobs. My only complaint is that Funny Girl's final third seemed a bit rushed ... or maybe I knew I was approaching the end and simply wanted more of Barbara's life and story.
For those who watch sitcoms or listen to story-driven podcasts, Funny Girl offers a glimpse into the often hilarious and collaborative clash of a screenwriting partnership. Up and coming writers Bill and Tony haggle over plots, situations, and dialogue for Barbara’s first show. As Hornby’s clearly in his element with these fictional writers, they almost steal the show.
A final note - I actually binge-listened to the Funny Girl audiobook, and British actress Emma Fielding's performance is sublime. I could listen to her read Wikipedia entries for hours.