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. The shadow of the dead Stewart looms over Cal who again finds himself walking in a dead man's shoes when he contrives to meet (and falls for) his dead roommate's ex-girlfriend. But ... there's always a price tag! Is Cal about to reap his comeuppance, the bubble he's been living in about to burst? The roller coaster ride that catapulted him to fame and fortune is about to turn upside down and plunge him on a downward spiral into a world of blackmail and murder. Another thriller with a "finders-keepers" plotline you may enjoy is "A Simple Plan" by Scott Smith.Read more ›
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. It's by far the page-turner of the year for me reminiscent of other favorite page-turners like Scott Smith's A Simple Plan and Douglas Kennedy's The Big Picture. I can't say enough about this book other than "READ IT." I found out something "about the author" John Colapinto - not only is he terrific but he's also found a new fan in this reader.Read more ›
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. This in itself raises some intriguing moral conflicts in the reader, as to whether deception can be ultimately a path to reward and, without it, would we ever gain the knowledge of what it means to be rewarded.
A neatly brought together thriller that has plenty of verve and swagger, convincing characters and buckets of tension. A terrific read and one that needs to be talked about more often.Read more ›