Amy Falls Down
By Jincy Willett
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9781250028273, 336pp.)
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
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Amy Gallup is an aging novelist and writing instructor living in Escondido, California, with her dog, Alphonse. Since recent unsettling events, she has made some progress. While she still has writer's block, she doesn't suffer from it. She's still a hermit, but she has allowed some of her class members into her life. She is no longer numb, angry, and sardonic: she is merely numb and bemused, which is as close to happy as she plans to get. Amy is calm.
So, when on New Year's morning she shuffles out to her backyard garden to plant a Norfolk pine, she is wholly unprepared for what happens next.
Amy falls down.
A simple accident, as a result of which something happens, and then something else, and then a number of different things, all as unpredictable as an eight-ball break. At first the changes are small, but as these small events carom off one another, Amy's life changes in ways that range from ridiculous to frightening to profound.
This most reluctant of adventurers is dragged and propelled by train, plane, and automobile through an outlandish series of antic media events on her way to becoming--to her horror--a kind of celebrity. And along the way, as the numbness begins to wear off, she comes up against something she has avoided all her life: her future, that "sleeping monster, not to be poked."
Jincy Willett's Amy Falls Down explores, through the experience of one character, the role that accident plays in all our lives. "You turn a corner and beasts break into arias, gunfire erupts, waking a hundred families, starting a hundred different conversations. You crack your head open and three thousand miles away a stranger with Asperger's jump-starts your career."
We are all like Amy. We are all wholly unprepared for what happens next.
Also, there's a basset hound.
An NPR Best Book of 2013
JINCY WILLETT is the author of Jenny and the Jaws of Life, Winner of the National Book Award, and The Writing Class, which have been translated and sold internationally. Her stories have been published in Cosmopolitan, McSweeney's Quarterly, and other magazines. She frequently reviews for The New York Times Book Review. Willett spends her days parsing the sentences of total strangers and her nights teaching and writing--sometimes, late at night, in the dark, she laughs inappropriately.
"I loved this novel--it's totally brilliant--witty and mordant and filled with these wonderful insights into the state of publishing and writing and the way we are now. I thought Willett couldn't top Winner of the National Book Award, but I was wrong--this one definitely does."
Willett uses her charmingly filterless heroine as a mouthpiece to slam a parade of thinly veiled literati and media personalities with riotous accuracy, but she balances the snark with moments of poignancy.
A smart and witty tale.