Daniel Wagner, Author . Knopf $17.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4188-6

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 and Adaptation , 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. Agent, Barbara J. Zitwer. (July 19)

Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Open Ebook - 104 pages - 978-0-307-42445-7
Paperback - 111 pages - 978-1-4000-7617-8
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