Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices

I love the concept here:  instead of bringing 36 local authors together to do a series of readings, how about bringing them together to do a series of writings?  That's exactly what Seattle7Writers and Open Road Media did last fall: a week long marathon of writing live on stage.  Not only that, but the outcome is one quirky, action packed novel--not separate stories or essays, but a single, fabulous, cohesive story.
The story centers around 14 year-old Alexis and her home, the Hotel Angeline, which she is desperately attempting to save.  Hotel Angeline is a resident hotel (and former mortuary) filled with some of the most bizarre tenants imaginable, and was managed by Alexis and her mother until her mother suddenly passed away and Alexis is left trying to figure out how to hold her life together on her own.  The story is engaging, with enough action to keep the pages turning.  The different authorial voices didn't disrupt the story being told, although the multitudinous plot turns did start to wear on me slightly--I guess I'm used to more contemplative stories?  This book seemed to be more about collaboration, community, and story telling than it is about character development or plausibility.

The special part about this is how all of these authors were willing to work together, putting aside their writing quirks--turning a typically isolated exercise into a social, community-wide event.  (Check out the video below to see the authors speak for themselves on the matter.)  I didn't recognize many of the writers, but I loved the experience of being exposed to so many new authors in such a fun way.  

Title: Hotel Angeline
Author: 36 of them! Including Jamie Ford and Erik Larson
Pages: 260
Published: Open Road Media, 2011
Read For: Review, thanks to Open Road and NetGalley for providing my copy!
My Rating: 3.5 stars


  1. Intriguing concept--it would almost have to be better in theory than in practice, but i think I might try to check this out.

  2. I like the concept. Have you heard about Yeats Is Dead? It's also a collaboration novel. I haven't read it yet, but have it on the shelves.

  3. I'm going to have to check this one out. Although, like you, I may not like sudden plot twists. It won't feel real to me.

  4. I love the sound of this! Such a great concept, absolutely a must-read. Thanks for letting me know about it.

  5. Crowe, there were a couple of gaps (mostly character development) which is to be expected, but I still found it a lot of fun to read. Of course, I may not have been so gracious if I wasn't enamored with the idea in the first place.

    Em, the title sounds familiar, but I had no idea that it was a similar type of project. Looks like a fabulous line up of authors too. Joseph O'Connor, Doyle, McCourt etc. how can I resist?

    Belle, yeah those were the parts that seemed almost a little silly to me. We were camping when I read it, and a couple parts were almost like the round-robin campfire stories we were telling "and THEN..." Luckily, I still found it entertaining.

    Willa, I was fascinated with the idea when I first heard about it too. Sometimes it can seem like writers, publishers, and readers are at odds...a project like this makes it into more of a community. I like that!

  6. I'm usuallt wary of collaborative writing projects - but this one seems to have worked well. Thanks for the review.


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