From Publishers Weekly
Story one in this convoluted, philosophically dense novella concerns a hen-pecked struggling writer who wishes he could dispense with commercially necessary plot contrivances and just write about the mundane epiphanies of everyday existence. Seemingly unrelated story two is just such a romantic plot contrivance about a man and a woman shipwrecked on a desert island who do little but mull over the mundane epiphanies of everyday existence. We gradually realize that story two is, somewhat magically, both real and the fictional contrivance of the writer in story one and his brother, who themselves may be real or just fictional characters in a screenplay being uncomprehendingly read aloud by an old man. Weaving narrative artifice with skeptical meta-commentary on narrative artifice, the intertwining stories ask whether humans possess free will or are mere plot contrivances in a tale told by an idiot. The book is explicitly recommended for fans of Memento
, to which one could add The Truman Show
and many another movie or book that considers the processes of narrative artifice to be as interesting as the narrative itself. Snowboarder and first-time novelist Wagner is a good observer of domestic and emotional detail, which will serve him well when he gets past tail-chasing why-we-write conceits and decides to tell a story straight.
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“A sly novel. . . . Figuring out what is fiction and what is reality is half the fun of this book.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"I'm honestly not sure whether I was so happily hypnotized by a movie . . . and a book
because of the spellbinding film it unspooled in my mind or because of the way it held me enrapt as a novel. But I do know that I was absolutely mesmerized by it from the start to finish." –Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives
and The Buffalo Soldier
"A must-read for fans of Memento
." –Eric Garcia, author of Matchstick Men
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