Steven Carter, who has been called “madly inventive” (Kirkus) and “darkly comic” (Village Voice), has a genius for letting his characters speak for themselves, and here they do so quite literally. Famous Writers School is composed of three aspiring authors’ letters and stories sent to a correspondence course by that grandiose name, and the self-serving “lessons” that Wendell Newton, their endearingly obtuse instructor, doles out in response. Wendell’s oddball collection of students includes Rio, an alluring blues singer on whom he quickly develops a crush; Linda Trane, an unhinged housewife who may be stalking him; and Dan, a truly talented author of hard-boiled detective fiction. As Dan’s gritty mystery arrives piece by piece, Wendell gets hooked on the story—and decides to dress it up in his own style in order to pass it off as his creation.
Carter skillfully weaves these narratives into a genre-bending romp that is at once reminiscent of Raymond Carver and Carl Hiaasen.