John Colapinto, Author . HarperCollins $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-019417-8

Cal Cunningham, the engaging, "panther-thin" protagonist of Colapinto's intrepid first foray into fiction (after his nonfictional debut As Nature Made Him) is an author with writer's block, struggling to acquire the "monastic absorption" needed to pen his autobiography and be freed from a meager existence as a bookstore stock boy. His dreams of success are further dashed when reclusive law student–roommate Stewart presents a brilliant short story he's written, and after some digging on the sly, Cal discovers a scandalous, novel-length manuscript recounting the sordid details of his own womanizing life. When Stewart is killed in a biking accident, a resentful, envious Cal adopts the manuscript, Almost Like Suicide, as his own and courts Stewart's old girlfriend Janet, too. Aided by flawlessly rendered literary agent Blackie Yeager, who sells the novel for millions, Cal lands a monetary and media windfall. Eventually moving to New Halcyon, Vt., to marry Janet, his perfect if duplicitous life is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger claiming to have Stewart's laptop computer containing the original manuscript; Cal's messy, disastrous comeuppance, involving blackmail and murder, takes over the second half of the novel. Publishing-savvy readers (and those who enjoyed Donald Westlake's The Hook) will find Colapinto's depiction of Cal's book tour and the many "particularly excruciating" television interviews he must undergo hilariously apropos. Cal's surplus of manic rationalizations overwhelm some taut, well-realized suspenseful moments, and Colapinto's feel-good though immensely implausible ending will sweetly satisfy, but not without leaving a bitter aftertaste of injustice. Still, this is a fine first effort from an emerging voice in fiction. (Aug. 1)

Reviewed on: 07/09/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-173861-6
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-118850-3
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-001048-5
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-06-093217-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 272 pages - 978-0-06-009703-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next