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About the Author [Paperback]

John Colapinto
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2010

A wickedly funny psychological thriller about literary ambition, envy and the lengths an author will go to get on the bestsellers list.

Cal Cunningham dreams of writing an autobiographical novel that will help him escape from his life as a penniless bookstore stockboy in upper Manhattan. Yet, after two years of living together, it is Stewart, Cal’s studious flatmate who has finished writing a page-turning novel – based on Cal’s life.

When a timely, fatal bicycle accident removes Stewart from the scene, Cal appropriates the manuscript as his own and places it in the hands of the legendarily ferocious literary agent Blackie Yeager.

Soon Cal realises his most outlandish fantasies of literary success. That is, until he discovers that someone knows his secret. For Cal, this means plotting not just his second novel, but also his first murder.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (4 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184115640X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841156408
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

John Colapinto's About the Author is a wicked thriller set in the ferocious world of publishing and a burning satire on what it takes to make a bestseller. Narrator, wannabe writer and stockboy Cal Cunningham has written nothing since he arrived in New York but he has relentlessly regaled his reclusive flatmate with his sexual conquests. When he discovers his roommate's finished manuscript,
a virtual transcription of the monologues with which [he] had entertained Stewart during the two and a half years of [their] roommatehood. It was all there. All of it. Not just the "Dispatches from Downtown" with their ribald tales of romantic conquest and alcohol abuse, but the truly precious stuff, the irreplaceable personal lode of [his] childhood memories, with all their pain and yearning and loss,
he justifies his subsequent plagiarism. By the end of Colapinto's novel, we are left with a dead flatmate, a half-murdered blackmailer, a deceased phoney cop, a drug deal on the Canadian border and a lot of close calls--all for the sake of Art.

About the Author starts off promisingly with its mellifluous, loquacious first-person narrative and its challenging moral premise, making this a real page-turner. Unfortunately, it loses steam halfway through as our narrator/anti-hero moves from the potentially explosive possibilities of New York City to the safe little hamlet of New Halcyon and the perfect life with the even more perfect wife. What could have been an inflammatory satire on the fiery world of publishing (Cal's agent Blackie Yaeger is a wonderfully drawn caricature but, disappointingly, never developed to his full Faustian potential) abruptly loses its sizzle. Nonetheless, it's worth reading Colapinto's assured first foray into Fiction, as he's sure to be a talent you'll hear from again, especially with the film rights to his novel already sold. An interesting case of life imitating art perhaps!

Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone Journalist Colapinto's first book was the bestselling non-fiction title As Nature Made Him. --Nicola Perry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘A Perfect novel…not only a devastatingly witty satire on American literary life but also a thriller of which Patricia Highsmith would have been proud.’ The Sunday Times

‘Blackly comic thriller and a sly, spot-on satire of Bookbiz hoopla.’ The Times

‘A thriller worthy of Hitchcock at his best. I wasn’t able to put it down. Splendid suspense.’ Stephen King

‘Gleaming, well written and exciting.’ Financial Times

‘It is enormously, compulsively readable…the book is difficult to stop reading.’ Spectator

‘Masterly’ Daily Mail

‘It will satisfy readers who want to know what’s new in literary fiction as well as those seeking the comforts of a well-told reader.’ Guardian

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
For reasons that will become obvious, I find it difficult to write about Stewart. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Michael Murphy VINE VOICE
Stylishly written, "About the Author" is a cracking debut novel from fresh new voice in fiction, John Colapinto, packed with suspenseful moments and wicked plot twists. The premise is compelling: a struggling, frustrated writer, Cal Cunningham, suffering from chronic writers' block, harbours dreams of writing a novel that will bring widespread critical acclaim - and free him from his mundane existence stacking books in a bookstore. Sharing his cheap Manhattan apartment is his less than outgoing roommate, law student Stewart (forever clacking away on his old Underwood following the theft of his laptop) who devours Cal's anecdotes about his latest sexual adventures.
Secretly raking through Stewart's files, Cal finds a superb manuscript of a novel, "Almost like Suicide", that he is horrified to discover is based on his own sexual exploits, unwittingly recounted to the attentive Stewart. Coincidentally, at this time, Stewart is accidentally killed while out on his bike. Feeling cheated that Stewart has hijacked his own private and personal experiences for use in the novel, Cal misappropriates his dead roommate's manuscript, submitting it to top literary agent, Blackie Yaeger as his own work. Cal rationalises his criminal actions, convincing himself that since it is his life, his experiences being described in the manuscript, he is, though not strictly speaking the author, entitled to claim the book as his own.
"Almost like Suicide" proves to be a sensation, taking the literary world by storm. Instant literary acclaim, fame, fortune, book tours follow, launching Cal into the world of television talk shows and movie deals, living out a destiny that was rightfully Stewart's had he lived.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "PAGE-TURNER OF THE YEAR" FOR ME 20 Oct 2002
When I heard about this book, I assumed it was another non-fiction book by Colapinto. The title alone is suggestive of a non-fiction work. Well, it certainly isn't in that genre. It's a psychological thriller of the very best kind...not a dark thriller but more of a light one. It's like a roller coaster ride -- a trip to hell and back. Colapinto has managed to take all of my favorite book elements and combine them in one story. I couldn't put it down trying to figure out just what would happen next.
The premise is great. Cal Cunningham is a struggling writer who has hopes of one day penning a great novel. It's no surprise that he hasn't been successful since, for the past two years, he hasn't written a thing...not one page. He thinks about it all the time, and imagines himself as a best-selling author, but hasn't been motivated yet to put that pen to page.
He spends his days at his job stacking books in a local bookstore. At nights, he spends his time carousing with loose women in tawdry bars. He shares a cramped NYC apartment with his roommate Stewart Church, a law school student. Stewart is such a bore and spends most of his time typing away on his laptop in the seclusion of his bedroom. When he comes up for air on the weekends, Cal regales him with stories of his ventures into the wild nightlife of New York. Stewart hangs on every word...and that's all I'm going to tell you. What happens next is unbelievable. One little event, one little decision made, one little lapse in judgment will put Cal on the ride of his life. Unfortunately, he might not be able to jump off when he wants to.
This is the story of how Cal Cunningham becomes a best-selling author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unerringly accomplished 12 April 2007
By Mr. D. Woods VINE VOICE
John Colapinto's debut novel, though not his debut feature length work, is a brilliantly rapacious thriller that twists and turns with such startling alacrity, you will be gripped from the very first page.

Most of the other reviews have outlined the plot well here so I won't wax lyrical. What I will say is this book superbly gets under your skin and it is a testament to Colapinto's prose that he makes you care about the fate of Cal, even though he has committed such a cowardly and amoral act. Interestingly, Cal never actually attempts to redeem himself, instead trying to find ever more underhand means of preventing his secret from being revealed. Nor is he a heroic or brave character, allowing himself to be cajoled and bullied by Les into complying with the blackmail scam. At times his Hamlet-complex had me tearing my hair out as he procrastinated in the face of taking necessary action but I truly felt I was with him all the way.

This brings me to the effectiveness of the story, which is involving and bold. The confidence displayed by Colapinto is astounding considering the novelist's relative inexperience but it is deserved. It's also appropriate to the conviction of the narrative, which holds at its heart the concept of the author as 'God'.

One criticism that I did notice here was that the novel tied itself up too neatly in the denouement. This isn't an unfair observation and I did feel that Colapinto failed to execute a satisfying conclusion, after asking so many uncomfortable questions of the reader. But, upon reflection, I thought it was actually very clever as Cal receives a redemption that he does not really earn.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!
Excellent story, compelling and unusual. I found it hard to put down - you feel the tension and need to know what will happen next.
Published 16 months ago by MC
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read
This is one of the best novels I have ever read - it really is a page turner from page 1. A wonderful book - I've bought several copies as presents for friends.
Published 21 months ago by Grandad Bike
3.0 out of 5 stars Whose story?
Cal Cunningham is a wannabe author who has never really come up with the goods. However, conveniently for Cal, his roommate dies unexpectedly, leaving behind a manuscript for a... Read more
Published on 9 July 2012 by neverendings
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and pacy
"About The Author" may be a bland and unexciting title for a debut novel but the story behind it is gripping and pacy. Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2009 by Stephen Newton
4.0 out of 5 stars A very cute story
The scenario as per the book cover makes a lot of the Hitchcock type storyline and to be fair it has many of those elements - a flawed would be author who because of fate gets a... Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2009 by Siriam
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read but too obvious
I enjoyed reading this book and on that level would happily recommend to others as an well written and enjoyable story. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2009 by Mr. J. MCNAMARA
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable lightweight thriller
Gives a whole new meaning to the term 'literary thriller', this engaging tale of authorial theft, starts briskly and brilliantly and then slowly becomes more predictable,... Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2009 by Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Just When He Thought He Was Safe . . .
This is a great suspense chase from a first time novelist. From chapter one I was totally captivated by the introduction of the lead character, Cal Cunningham and his soon to be... Read more
Published on 22 Aug 2009 by A. Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping holiday read
Cal is a would-be author who is suffering from writer's block. Stewart, his flatmate, is a wannabe author who, due to parental pressure, is studying for a law degree instead. Read more
Published on 22 Jun 2009 by Pitoucat
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful thriller, truly engaging
I've now read this book twice and what can I say what a page turner. The story takes you through the life of Carl who plagiarises his room mates manuscript. Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2009 by R. Patel
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