The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer(5 out of 5)
If you want an unheralded writer who deserves more than he’s gotten in the way of acclaim, Adam Langer is your man. His wonderful novel Crossing California started it.(Thank you, Len, for turning me onto that book). I hadn’t heard of this one until I was looking up his titles weeks back. I had, of course, lost track of him amidst the 20,000 other authors I had discovered since I read Crossing California. I ordered this, because it had some bearing in the publishing/book industry, and since that’s where I’ve been tapping my stone shoes for the past 14 years, it seems kismet to read it. I was not disappointed in the least. If anything, I may have ended up liking it as much, if not a little more, than CC.
Ian Minot, our narrator and lead character, is a struggling novelist in New York. Success is all around him and those who possess what he perceives to be little or not talent seem to be succeeding in the wildest dreams category while he fights to achieve one golden star on the literary tree for himself. Ian’s biggest pet peeve seems to be those who are writing bogus memoirs and reaping mass benefits(think James Frey BEFORE the Oprah scandal, but James Frey with Kayne West’s ego). Ian’s main beef in that category belongs to Blade Markham, who deserves his own novel based on his character in this one(another idea for Langer for the future). The entire system is a large-scale fraud. In a weird twist of life imitating art inside a work of written art, Ian ends up getting into a plot with other struggling authors and the book he’s writing suddenly turns into a non-fiction happening. This turns into a whodunit and takes a number of fascinating, darkly humorous turns before its resolutions.
To say I enjoyed Ian(or is this a semi-autobiographical take on Adam Langer’s own views on the publishing dynasty as it is today? I think it may be, personally) is an understatement. What a great character. What a great story. Read this underappreciated gem. You won’t be sorry. You may question writers, publishers, idiot online industries trying to singlehandedly kill the book industry(Welcome to the Jungle indeed), and media publicists like you wouldn’t have normally, but it’s totally worth it. A sardonic, realistic hell of a read.