A dizzyingly clever novel from Langer (My Father’s Bonus March, 2009, etc.) that explores the thin line between fact and fiction, and between memoir and novel.
Narrator Ian Minot, a frustrated writer, is angry that a hack named Blade Markham is being celebrated for a memoir about growing up on the mean streets of New York City, a memoir Ian is convinced Markham made up, his street cred being limited to copping an attitude and inserting “yo” at the end of every sentence. Soon Ian links up with Jed Roth, a fellow writer who’s penned The Thief of Manhattan, a novel about stealing a valuable copy of The Tale of Genji, burning down the library that housed it and murdering a couple of book fanatics. Jed persuades Ian to rewrite the novel, alter a few incidents and submit it to publisher Geoff Olden as a memoir. The plan is to have it become a bestseller and then publicly humiliate Olden (who’d published Markham’s book) when it’s revealed to be a fake. Ian’s life is complicated by his attachment to his girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, whose memoir about growing up in Romania, We Never Talked About Ceausescu, is creating buzz. Eventually Anya drops Ian and hooks up with Markham. Meanwhile, Ian scores a deal with Olden, famous for reading only the first and last pages of a manuscript. Ian’s “memoir” is published under the title The Thieves of Manhattan...but it turns out that Roth’s original manuscript is in fact based more on truth than on fiction and that Roth may have been manipulating Ian the entire time.
Lots of fun.