The Other Side of the World: A Novel

Jay Neugeboren. Two Dollar Radio, $17 trade (268p) ISBN 978-1-937512-02-6
Charlie Eisner and Seana O'Sullivan, central characters in Neugeboren's (The Stolen Jew) latest novel, are writers in the throes of collaboration. To add some "meta" to this fiction, their process involves working off snippets from Charlie's father, Max, himself a writer and retired college professor in Massachusetts. Seana, a former graduate student of Max's, had picked these snippets up at a literary tag sale he'd held. While figuring out which threads to follow and how best to piece them together, the pair sift through "opening chapters, final paragraphs, plot notions and summaries." The old man had considered Seana "his best and brightest, and also, to his ongoing delight, his most successful." But once Charlie pens a story about "a charming young man in his mid-thirties… in an international city in the Far East," based on his own experiences in Singapore and Borneo, the line separating truth and fiction becomes irreparably blurred. When Charlie's narrative veers into mildly offensive and absurd territory, it's unclear whom to credit and whom to blame. Is it the author's own voice or is it the protagonist Charlie's imagination? Neugeboren's playful twist on notions of authorship make this novel smart, mysterious, and occasionally disturbing. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 12/01/2012
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