Jean Hanff Korelitz
This is the book everyone has been talking about this summer, which is about a book everyone is talking about. The Plot is a clever story about Jacob Finch Bonner, a promising young novelist whose career has stalled. His first book received a lot of attention. His second, not so much. Now he’s teaching a writing class at a sub-par MFA program, with a stalled third book on his laptop.
In walks Evan Parker, an arrogant student who announces he already has a story that is so good he knows it will become a best seller and movie. When Parker tells him the plot during a private meeting, Bonner hates Parker even more, jealous of an idea he didn’t think of himself. The course ends and Bonner returns to his career as an online writing coach, with an eye out for Parker’s book. But the book never surfaces and Bonner later discovers that Parker is dead.
Parker never wrote the book. Bonner knows the plot. Why not just use it? He rationalizes that every story needs to be told. And it isn’t plagiarism, really, if Bonner writes his own book about it. Sure enough, Bonner’s new book becomes a top best seller, an Oprah pick, and the movie is in the works. Bonner is riding high with book tours and interviews until he receives the first of many messages calling him a thief.
That’s the basis of an interesting look at what happens to forgotten or unclaimed story ideas. Are they fair game? A first, Bonner ignores the messages, but the sender ramps them up. And soon Bonner knows he must uncover the person harassing him. The second half of the book focuses on the race to stop the messages before Bonner is outed as a fraud.
I enjoyed The Plot because of its original story idea. It was fun reading, although I figured out early on who was sending him the messages. That almost never happens to me. From that point, the story followed a predictable path to the big showdown. I’d call this a good summer beach read because it’s entertaining and easily readable. I also enjoyed reading about writers and all the movers and shakers in the publication business. The author does a good job showing the reality of being a writer. An added bonus was realizing the story was partially set in my college town! I recommend The Plot to readers who are looking for a light read.
Have you read The Plot? What did you think?
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