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Sunday, September 26, 2010

What to Read Next: "The Thieves of Manhattan" by Adam Langer.

The workings of the mind are strange:  Facts and fiction blur together, sometimes intentionally and sometimes accidentally.  Earlier this month, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of stealing lines that appear in his new memoir from a 2006 movie, The Queen, Hollywood's fictional dramatization of the same events Blair covers in his book.

What happened to Blair was likely accident; the mind, busy assembling bits of information, incorrectly categorizing what was witnessed first hand with what was witnessed only on video.  In contrast to Blair, author James Frey acknowledged that he fabricated details in his memoir, A Million Little Pieces.
Authors who intend to deceive, who publish fiction but call it fact and memoir, are at the core of The Thieves of Manhattan.  The main character is Ian Minot, a struggling young writer in New York.  Struggling so long, in fact, that he fears success will not arrive for him.  Ian is also frustrated with seeing the success of authors he believes to be phonies.  Nonetheless, when Ian finds himself low on cash and desperate, he soon agrees to get involved in a strange project:  Authoring a fake memoir.

At this point, The Thieves of Manhattan begins to transform from a quirky but seemingly straightforward read into an increasingly wild story.  Midway through the book, as events whirl around Ian, I actually felt my own stomach drop, and several times thought 'uh-oh', followed shortly by 'oh, no!'  This novel about truth and art, authors, writing and publishing, morphs into a thriller with a hard-boiled edge to it.  Even one of the story's devices, the somewhat irritating slang used by the main character, actually helps to create a noir atmosphere (be advised that there is a glossary in the back of the book to help sort out Ian's slang).

There are many surprises throughout the course of this book.  Events that you initially label as either 'truth' or 'lie' don't stay neatly in their category.  And that's okay because The Thieves of Manhattan is interesting, clever  - - and it is fiction.    I recommend you read it.

And that's the truth.   

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Thieves of Manhattan. Manhattan. NYC. The Big Apple. An apple. Adam and Eve.  Original sin.  Corruption.  Lies. Truth.  The Thieves of Manhattan.  

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