The Thieves of Manhattan
By Adam Langer
Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperbacks
Ian Minot is an author; an author that works in a coffee shop to pay the rent and stares at a blank computer screen on his writing days. His girlfriend is a gorgeous, Eastern European woman and a much better writer than he is. He expects her to dump him at any moment. He wants to write the truth, but unfortunately for him, his life isn’t the stuff great books are made of. He struggles looking for inspiration becoming bitter with his chosen career wondering if it might be better for him, and any potential readers he might acquire, to quit now.
When a man named Blade publishes a gritty memoir detailing all the crime, prison time, and retched things he’s done in his life, Ian takes offense telling anyone who will listen than the guy is a liar and the whole book is a fraud. When his girlfriend gets a book deal, life gets even worse for Ian. That’s when the confident man walks into his life with a proposition that will change his existence — together, the confident man and Ian, will pass off the confident man’s fiction novel as Ian’s memoir and wait for the cash and critical acclaim to roll in. With nothing to his name and no coffee shop job left, Ian agrees to the scheme and finds out that the truth is not always what one believes.
The Thieves of Manhattan is a wry look at the publishing industry and the problems inherent in the industry, as well as, the silly stereotypical people and behaviors that inhabit it. I found the first part of the story a bit slow. Ian is a complainer and not all that easy to like which seems to be the way he likes it, but once the confident man steps into the picture, it picks up and takes an interesting turn. You see it coming but Langer writes in such a way that makes it fun to read even when see (or think you see) how it will all end.
Langer makes up a lot of terms and uses industry jargon and includes a glossary in the back of the book. At first I thought it was amusing, but quickly found it annoying and pretentious. He uses the terms too freely and too often and they lose their entertainment value early on. At least this was the case for me, could be different for others.
Overall, it’s a great quick read that lambastes the publishing industry for all its problems and all the crap that it publishes. The main character doesn’t hold himself up as some honest, wonderful writer, and even though he goes along with the scheme he manages to get himself involved in, he doesn’t ever think of himself as better. Just someone that broke into the system by fraud and found a way out of using the same corrupt system that got him in. It’s an interesting read.