This is one of those books that really can’t be summed up. Not because it’s complicated — it’s not, really — but more because the primary joy in this book is the discovery of it. Well, and because it doesn’t have a tidy plot with a simple character arc and thrilling climax.
I came to this conclusion about halfway though this book, when I stumbled upon this quote:
Ours is a new generation of plagiarists. Armed with Wikipedia and Google, we can manufacture our own truths. What else should be expected in an age whenever the real reporters, off in the Middle East, send back only government-approved messages? Move over Jennings and Murrow. No need for the cold, uninterpreted facts. Make way for Stewart and Colbert! In our era, truthiness is in the dictionary, and Dan Rather got fired for not authenticating the Killian documents. And in his wake we’ve found, twisting and shouting, the Bill O’Reillys and the Chris Matthewses, spinning us sugar-sweet falsehoods. Plagiarism, class, is the new American art form.
It’s more a book about ideas, lies, truth and the nature of stories.
There are two things you should know before starting this book: 1) while the narrator doesn’t remain nameless, you never do learn his true name. And 2) he’s incredibly unreliable. After the first chapter, you start wondering where the Lies end and the Truth begins. Or, if even there is a Truth to be told.
Jansma takes the idea — of telling us what we want to believe — and pushes it to the edge, giving us an narrator who is constantly changing the story, the names of the characters themselves, the basic facts. It’s confusing and exhilarating and fascinating all at once.
Oh, there is one more thing you need to know: you won’t be able to put this fascinating novel down.
Rated: Moderate for three f-bombs and a few instances of mild swearing.