The books of Jincy Willett are a delicious secret — witty, clever, ironic, funny. Her new novel, “Amy Falls Down,” pokes fun at our world of instant celebrity and buzz, when the protagonist trips, falls, bumps her head and becomes famous. Here’s how it begins:
Because the Norfolk pine was heavy, and also because she was wearing house slippers, having not yet dressed for the day, Amy took her time getting to the raised garden. Her house slippers were fuzzy, oversized, and floppy, and if she moved too fast, she would walk right out of them.
She was not yet dressed for the day because she had no reason to dress until much later, at which time she’d have to dress uncomfortably, and she was in no hurry to do that. At three o’clock a reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune was coming to interview Amy as a part of some bogus series about local writers. Although she’d specified no current events and especially no photographs, she didn’t trust a reporter who sounded on the phone as though she were eight years old and couldn’t think of anything funnier than not wanting your face on public display. Imagine, her laughter implied, denying the world the chance to gaze upon you. So Amy dreaded the interview but was not actively doing so, or thinking about it at all, as she shuffled toward the raised garden with the Norfolk pine.
She shuffled past her mimosa tree, where three goldfinches clung to a thistle-seed feeder, and past her green plastic pseudo-Adirondack chairs, covered with two seasons’ worth of dirt, seeds and leaves, which she really must hose off one of these days. She shuffled closer to the raised garden, as the screen door banged behind her and Alphonse jingled past and up ahead of her, his great basset nose zeroing in on the very spot where she planned to dig, as though her trail had magically preceded her. James Thurber said that his bloodhound always seemed more interested in where he’d been than where he was; Alphonse had an uncanny fascination with where she planned to be, and a genius for thwarting her.
From “Amy Falls Down,” by Jincy Willett. Copyright © 2013 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.