John McNally Critic's Choice Free Recommended

When: Sat., March 6, 7 p.m. 2010

McNally reads from his new novel, After the Workshop. The pride of Burbank, Illinois, has fashioned a more than respectable career as a writer, with two story collections and two very funny previous novels to his credit. But having read his third novel, After the Workshop (Counterpoint), I'm not sure he’d use the word respectable to describe what he does. After the Workshop takes the form of a memoir by one Jack Hercules Sheahan, who, 12 years after graduating from the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop and getting a story published in the New Yorker, has yet to finish his first book. Still living in Iowa City, he works, to his utter humiliation, as a media escort for authors coming through town. Two disastrously chaotic days of escorting mishaps frame Jack's reflections on his life as a failed writer, but also inspire him to once again try to put one word after another. McNally (himself a graduate of the Iowa workshop and former media escort) skewers pompous authors, overenthusiastic publicists, arrogant agents, phony memoirists, workshop students, even author photographers--and, yes, it's all very, very funny. --Jerome Ludwig

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