Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz: Literary Thriller, Literally

Is there anything worse than being unoriginal? In art, as in life, being called "derivative" is a fate worse than death. But when art is based on life, where is the line between invention, inspiration, borrowing, and flat-out stealing? For an artist, is there any worse crime than stealing someone else's work?

That's what this intense literary thriller is about. And when I say The Plot is a "literary thriller," I mean that literally. The plot of this novel is about a plot of a novel. And there are plenty of little literary chestnuts here if you're paying careful attention -- from the current debate about appropriation to Oprah's Book Club and James Frey to little jokes about Dan Brown. In fact, given Dan Brown's history with, um, "borrowing" plot, I couldn't help but think our protagonist here, a once-struggling-then-wildly-successful writer named Jake, bares more than a passing literary resemblances to Brown.

Jake is a struggling writer who stumbles on a once in a lifetime opportunity for fame and fortune. But taking said opportunity might be a little less than ethical. Or is it? You can see where this is going, right? Will he take it? What will be the repercussions? And what twists and turns lie along the way? 

So this winds up being a carefully plotted thriller that, while not exactly original itself (John Boyne's A Ladder To The Sky was about nearly this same thing), does have a few surprises in store for us along the way. I was immensely entertained all the way through.

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