After the Workshop

After the Workshop

4.0 4
by John McNally
     
 

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You graduate from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with a short story published in The New Yorker and subsequently Best American Short Stories. You stay in town and work on your novel. And work on your novel. Until, finally, twelve years have passed and you are working as a media escort for author tours and your unfinished novel sits in a box under

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Overview

You graduate from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with a short story published in The New Yorker and subsequently Best American Short Stories. You stay in town and work on your novel. And work on your novel. Until, finally, twelve years have passed and you are working as a media escort for author tours and your unfinished novel sits in a box under your bed. Your girlfriend has left you. Your car is missing a muffler. Your neighbor is walking around naked because his hands are bandaged and he can’t unzip his pants. You are at the whims of a slew of increasingly crazy writers, and when one of them disappears, an insane New York publicist begins stalking you. This is the life of Jack Hercules Sheahan, a character well understood by author John McNally. He is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as well as a former media escort, and these misadventures are brought to life by his very own. Recalling the ease and humor of novels by Nick Hornby and Michael Chabon, After the Workshop tells the satirical story of a writer who confronts the demons from his past while escorting those of his present.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Twelve years after graduating from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Jack Sheahan, the protagonist of McNally’s witty third novel, suffers from chronic self-doubt and a decade-long case of writer’s block. He keeps an unfinished novel in a box under his telephone books and earns his living as a media escort for literati invited to read in Iowa City, greeting authors at the airport, chauffeuring them around town, and occasionally running their errands—all the while seething with envy. With two clients in town at the same time—one a new mother with possible postpartum psychosis who disappears with her baby, the other an arrogant New Yorker of Jack’s age who has garnered the awards Jack once dreamed of winning—plus a snowstorm, a former fiancée, and a mysterious visit by a famous writer who’d disappeared from public view years earlier, the action spirals into frenzy. McNally (Ghosts of Chicago), an Iowa graduate and former media escort, clearly knows the world he admires yet takes down. His wacky literary archetypes, naked humor and sharp observations offer up an entertaining look at the writing life and the people who prop it up. (Mar.)
Library Journal
A graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Jack Hercules Sheahan is now a media escort. His first success, a short story published in The New Yorker, was followed by—nothing. Jack never managed to leave Iowa. He never completed his first novel. Now, 12 years later, between bouts of heavy drinking, Jack literally loses a client, abandons another, reconnects with his ex-fiancé, takes in a former client as a houseguest, gets arrested, has his unfinished novel stolen, and starts a memoir. In the chaos, he undergoes an epiphany and changes his life. Or does he? McNally, a novelist and short story writer, has lived a parallel life, so he knows whereof he speaks. His characters are eccentric, their actions erratic, and the results both funny and sad. VERDICT This satirical work will appeal to anyone who can empathize with the struggle to reroute a dead-end situation and those who like pseudomemoirs.—Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
Kirkus Reviews
A media escort in the Midwest's most literary town spills the beans on the book business. McNally (English/Wake Forest Univ.; Ghosts of Chicago, 2008, etc.) enthusiastically rakes the literary profession over the coals in his cutting fictional biography of Jack Hercules Sheahan, once a wunderkind of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a New Yorker-published writer with great potential and even greater opportunities. The novel smartly picks up Jack's story a decade after his well has run dry, as he subsists by ushering famous and not-so-famous writers to their hotels, bookstore readings and many, many bars. In one bizarre week during a Midwestern snowstorm, Sheahan finds himself at the mercy of not only his bloodthirsty publicity contact in New York but also of a memoirist suffering a psychotic break and an arrogant East Coast hipster whose claim to fame is rewriting classics as modern-day fables. Our melancholic hero unapologetically misses the good old days: "It was a desire to live in a time I couldn't possibly live in; a wish to meet people at a time in their lives that had already come and gone; a need to be a part of history in a way that I could no longer be." Into this maelstrom drops the brilliant but reclusive novelist S.S. Pitzer, who disappeared years ago but has resurfaced to steal Jack's unfinished first novel. McNally's well-crafted text takes aim at everyone in the business-writers, agents, publishers, booksellers and even readers, crucifying each for their worst offenses-without ever reviling the art itself. A ribald deconstruction, packed with literary in-jokes, of an industry in love with its own absurdities.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582435602
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
02/16/2010
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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After the Workshop 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hilarious look at pretty much every aspect of being a writer. If you liked Wonder Boys or Straight Man, you might like this one, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Piece of turd