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About the Author Paperback – 4 Oct 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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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: 14.4 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 530,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Review

‘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

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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