cover image The Writing Class

The Writing Class

Jincy Willett, . . St. Martins/Dunne, $24.95 (326pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33066-8

Can a class of wannabe novelists solve a murder in their midst? That's the premise of this dark comedy of the absurd from Willett (Winner of the National Book Award ), a boisterous satire of pseudointellectuals, impotent writers and the adult extension programs of public universities. The only things Amy Gallup, a once-noted California author, has published in years are blurbs of other writers' work. Amy's only income comes from teaching fiction writing to a motley collection of varyingly talented “prepublished” adults. Someone in the class is making threatening phone calls and sending extremely cruel notes to other students. When two of the students are murdered, a deep sense of danger takes hold. Yet the class goes on. Amy's lectures actually constitute a damn fine guide to writing fiction, while Willett's prose has sparkling moments (“The line was playful, offhand, the poem itself a smug, imperious cat stretch”). The tension is so strong that readers can hardly resist the temptation to peek ahead and see which student is the killer. (June)