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book review: "The Thieves of Manhattan"...

Monday, September 12, 2016
...which I read as a set of seven CD's from the library. Interesting to note that the back of the box indicates that the length of time it would take to listen to the entire reading is 8 1/2 hours, which I guess we can assume is the also the amount of time it would take to actually read the printed book without interruptions. It was written by Adam Langer and published by Random House, copyrighted 2010. A whopping tale if ever there was one, sort of like a story within a story.

(Most of my reading is randomly chosen off the shelf, though I occasionally request something that I see, or read about that piques my interest. Like the one I am reading now, when I saw the book for sale on the table at Costco several weeks ago, subtitled as my' book of firsts', by Jaycee Dugard, "Freedom". Where a young woman, having been stolen and held captive since age eleven, learns to navigate in the world outside after many years of confinement.)

"The Theives" is a fascinating tale, and as well written as you would expect from the viewpoint of the main character, Ian, who in the story is an author of short stories, dreaming of writing longer prose worthy of notice by the publishing houses of New York. Ian encounters a stranger in the coffee shop  where he works, and is drawn into a scheme of re-writing a novel this stranger, Jed, as written as fiction to submit to a big name publisher as a memoir, to eventually confess it is all a tall tale, made up and foisted on the public. Lots of unexpected twists and turns, where Ian actually is drawn into the story, that as he gets involved becomes truth rather than the supposed fictitious novel as the characters in the printed plot actually turn up to take Ian hostage, searching for a valuable ancient book.

The author obviously is a reader, as there were many references to writers who would be familiar to those who read popular literature. Ian, as the narrator, called cigarettes 'vonneguts', as Kurt Vonnegut was a hard core smoker, and referred to money as 'daisies', for Daisy in the Great Gatsby, who was referred to by book's author as being 'made of money'. There was a glossary (read for us listeners) at the end of the book that offered explanatory notes as to who those little bits referred to and how they came to be: clothing, beds, guns called 'camino's from the name of a hit man in mystery tales. The author Truman Capote was often seen wearing a wide brimmed hat at a rakish angle, causing hats in the story to become 'capotes'. Many other interesting asides, some of which I did not catch, due to not having read those particular authors, but you figure them out by context.

Listening to a story, in recorded form, I found myself sitting in the car, not willing to turn the engine off, waiting for the tale to unfold. Following a group of well described, completely believable characters as they charge across the country on a mission to find the missing tome, unraveling clues that lead them to Manhattan, Kansas. The characters, as read, are voiced by different people, making the tale even more interesting, as they interact and have conversations. If I had been reading print, it is the sort of book that would have had me up into the wee hours trying to be assured things would work out in the end.

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