A poison-pen letter to the publishing industry from Owen (The Rail, 2002, etc.), whose loser protagonist hits the big time once he stops playing by the rules.
Jack Stone is not the sort of fellow you expect to see on the evening news. A long-haul trucker from the backwater town of Speakeasy, Virginia, Jack is happily settled with second wife Gina and their daughter Shannon, but trucking takes him away from home for weeks at a time. On the road one day Jack picks up a strange, silent hitchhiker who describes himself as a writer and leaves behind a chilling manuscript depicting the secret life of a serial killer. The story haunts Jack to such an extent that he sells his rig, takes a day job with UPS, and starts a novel of his own. It’s not long before he has a first draft ready for submission, but what chance does a complete outsider have when it comes to finding an agent and publisher? The answer comes at a high school reunion that reunites Jack with his old classmate Jerry Prince. An irredeemable nerd in 1970, Jerry in 2000 has become a big editor in New York with an imprint of his own and a large stable of famous authors under contract. He agrees to look over Jack’s manuscript and takes a copy home to Manhattan. But Jerry never seems to have the time to sit down and actually read the thing, and Jack eventually concludes that he’s being strung along. When he intercepts a disparaging e-mail Jerry intended for someone else, Jack decides to visit his old friend in New York—with a .38 to keep them company. The uproar that follows gives Jack more publicity than any agent ever could.
A good premise animates what might have been a rather dull story into a witty, literary send-up along the lines of The King of Comedy.