April 08, 2010
JC: After the Workshop centers around Jack Hercules Shannon – yeah, Hercules, no shit – he had a story published in the New Yorker when he was at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He was working on a novel, a rising star. Anthologized. He had the pedigree and the stuff to make it big. Somewhere, however, something went wrong. Twelve years later, he’s given up on that novel, and on writing altogether, scraping an income together by squiring authors around town for book signings and dinners, forgetting, when possible, what might have been.
Then he picks up an author who disappears just before a shitstorm of bad pr, and later the same day plays chauffeur/metaphorical punching bag to the literary flavor of the month, all while feeling a personal upheaval he’s been avoiding for years.
This is funny stuff. Jack wonders the snowbound streets of Iowa City hounded by a maniacal publicity manager from NYC, a hot-and -cold ex-fiance, and a former literary star now down on his own luck. They drink and scheme and lie their way from bars to book signings.
There’s a lot to like in After The Workshop, especially the hilarious cast of characters, who you know from your own workshops, bookstores, publishers, and quite possibly the comments section of this site. Lots of fun, reminescent in lots of ways to Wonder Boys.
Check back tomorrow for John McNally’s contribution to the the When We Fell In Love Series.