Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book Review: "The Thieves of Manhattan" by Adam Langer

This book is an amazingly clever, entertaining, literature-loving romp. Adam Langer has written three previous books, all of which I've loved, but nothing he's written before prepared me for The Thieves of Manhattan. If you like literature, this book is truly a fun adventure.

Ian Minot is a writer struggling to find success. He keeps submitting his stories for publication, only to constantly receive rejection notices, while at the same time, his Romanian girlfriend, Anya, is on the cusp of her own successful literary career. Stuck in a dead-end job at a coffee shop, he is incensed by the success of another author's memoir, as somehow an average middle-class guy has convinced the world that he has endured gang fights and prison torture to become a street-wise, slang-spouting road warrior. This anger results in Ian's meeting Jed Roth, a former publisher whose desire to wreak havoc on the literary world draws Ian in. Jed's proposal is simple: Ian will pretend that Jed's adventure-esque novel is his own memoir, one Jed predicts the publishing world will fall head over heels for; at the right time, Ian will admit the memoir is a sham. However, this proposal isn't as cut-and-dried as it seems.

To describe any more of the book's plot would be to ruin some of the surprises it contains, but it has mystery, adventure, gun-toting librarians, even a roadtrip to Kansas. And Langer has developed a literary vocabulary all his own—women wear dresses called "golightlys," named for the main character in Breakfast at Tiffany's, people wear eyeglasses called franzens, named for the distinctive eyewear sported by author Jonathan Franzen, etc. (Rest assured, the book has a terrific glossary at the end so you don't miss any of the inside jokes.) This is a tremendously compelling, fun and intellectually challenging story I highly recommend. Definitely not quite your everyday book!

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