Book Review – Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World by Dermot Davis
Title: Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World
Author: Dermot Davis
Publisher: Dermot Davis
First Published: 2013
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Humor
Daniel is an author of literary fiction, and his novels are award winners. Readers of classic literature love them, but these readers don’t represent a very large portion of the book-buying market. His agent is less than sympathetic with his plight. She agrees that his books are good, but she doesn’t need good books, she needs books that will sell, and she tells him his next two won’t. She won’t even try to find a publisher for them.
In order not to starve, he has to write something that will sell, but he can’t reduce himself to writing popular genre fiction, and besides, he’s not familiar enough with it to try. When he sees a line at a bookstore for a book signing by the author of a very popular self-help book, he has an inspiration. Satire is respectable, so he commits himself to writing (under a pen name) a satire about the popularity of current self-help books. He makes it so outrageous, even cranks, crazies, desperate seekers, and the extremely credulous will not be able to take it seriously, and it will point out just how silly the whole thing is. His new book gets published (despite the fact that his agent initially wants to reject it), and it surprisingly becomes a bestseller—not as satire, but as a ‘serious’ self-help book. Soon, it has a cult following, and Daniel is both relieved and dismayed.
I found several scenes hilarious, and the satire about the state of traditional publishing and the plight of authors rung all too true. Anyone who has suffered through a few of the more dreadful recent bestsellers will understand.
The story is wonderfully imaginative. The characters are believable. The prose, for the most part, is pretty good, although it could use another round of editing—not for typos but mainly for sentence structure and capitalization.
I recommend this one to all writers, especially those struggling with the choice between writing what they think is good and writing what they think will sell.