Friday, July 23, 2010
Let The Thieves Of Manhattan Steal Your Precious Reading Time
I am all for books that are... what? What is the common thread? Two things: entertaining and well written. They don't have to be: important, funny, sad, mysterious, romantic, historical, modern or classics but they have to be good storytelling. No, I am not about to tell you that those elements come together once in a great while and here is a book that is one of those books. Well here is a book that is one of those books but I find books that meet my demands all the time. Isn't that wonderful? Some fulfill the requirements more completely than others and The Thieves of Manhattan is one of those books, but in general there are so many terrific books to read.
Okay. Enough with the misty eyed gratitude. The Thieves of Manhattan, right? Right.
What a crack up! Author Adam Langer has taken James Frey, publishing insiders, misery memoirs, the stereotypical Manhattan artist scene and written a funny, funny novel. His hero Ian Minot, a failed writer, is a classic bad luck Shleprock. He can't get anything right and his timing is worst of all. His lack of success is thorough. He can't get his work published and his immigrant Romanian girlfriend, the current darling of the publishing world as a result of her memoir of life under Ceausescu, is about to throw him over for a con-artist author Ian sees as the epitome of all that is wrong in publishing, Blake Markham. Into Ian's trough of self pity and failure comes brilliant editor Jed Roth, himself a rejected author, with a plan. Revenge.
The rest of the plot is Top Secret. Read Thieves yourself and find it out. By the time you finish it you will have had the world's best internship in publishing. The book will not only entertain you but it will also make you think about the voracity of what you read--just because it's in black and white doesn't make it black and white or anywhere near true. The shadier the road to success becomes for Ian the more important the truth is to him. Langer's novel (his 4th) isn't just all mock and no soul. Langer obviously has great affection for his characters and books.
My only dislike in The Thieves of Manhattan is a minor one. I did not enjoy all the fake book slang. Calling a short sentence a Hemingway or an umbrella a Poppins certainly displays Langer's reading credentials, but I found it tiresome and affected. There is even a glossary in the back containing all these terms presumably for all of us who don't get it. So you get the dumbed down explanation instead of the reward for being as well read as the author. Aside from that quibble, Thieves was a pleasure.
And. It's in paperback! And. It's at independent bookstores everywhere! And. If you go to one of those stores as opposed to shopping on line at one you will find tons of other good books to read. Isn't that fabulous?
P.S. The Cover? Love it.