Life In Progress – A Brilliant Novel In The Works by Yuvi Zalkow

How do I keep finding these weird novels?  Furthermore, how do I keep ending up reading these novels about writing novels?

Regardless of how I ended up here… here I am.  Another meta-fictional book about an author writing a book.  Did I know that’s what this book was about?  Of course not! I just liked the cover.  And I judged it thusly: That looks like the kind of book I’d read.

And is it?  Well, I think so… I mean, I read it, didn’t I?

Bah, whatever… in we go!

A Brilliant Novel In The Works
Yuvi Zalkow
286 Pages
M P Publishing Limited
August 14, 2012

First chapter, eighth line: the main character’s first name is Yuvi.

Oh.  So super-meta-fictional.  The author and the main character share a name.  OK, I can deal! I can persevere!  And I’m glad I did.  This book is funny.

And not just funny, but laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Much in the way that TV shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm straddle that line between uncomfortable and hysterically funny, A Brilliant Novel In The Works puts Yuvi in these absurd situations that would suck to be a part of… but are awfully fun to peek in on.

For instance, Yuvi suspects his wife, Julie, of having an affair.  Instead of confronting her about it in a mature, adult way… he instead stoops to snooping through her purse when he thinks she’s not looking.  Of course, she catches him and… well, I won’t spoil the fun.  Regardless, a funny scene made funnier by Yuvi’s complete inability to deal with a situation head-on.

The crux of the novel, however, aren’t these painfully awkward situations.  Instead, most of the novel’s plot comes from Yuvi attempting to finish his novel.  And the novel’s progress (within the novel) keeps up with the novel’s actual progression in a trippy-but-fun way.

The book also has a deviation chapter following almost every numbered chapter.  For instance, Chapter 11 is titled “Alcohol and Steroids” which comes from the line within the chapter, “‘He can’t beat this thing with just alcohol and steroids!'”

But the follow-up chapter is entitled “How I Killed Her Mother” which gives some backstory on Julia’s mother, as well as details about her mother’s death (from, what else, alcohol).  In most instances, there are correlations between the main chapter and the follow-ups that add very interesting layers to the novel.

Yuvi is a lot of fun as a narrator.  He’s neurotic, emotionally-stunted, and exceptionally sexually depraved.  All in all… my kind of character!

There’s also some elements of magical realism near the end of the novel, which reminded me somewhat of Adam Levin’s much longer book The Instructions.  Just a small bit of the fantastical, but it really made for a more emotionally impactive ending.

I don’t have much more to say about the novel.  I put it down for about a week while I was burying myself in comic books… so, sorry about that Yuvi.  But I did finish it and really enjoyed it.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you can also check out Yuvi Zalkow’s website which has a lovely mix of writing, video, and awkwardness.  What more do you want from a website?

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