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The Salinger Contract

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  897 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
An enthralling literary mystery that connects some of the world’s most famous authors—from Norman Mailer and Truman Capote to B. Traven and J. D. Salingerto a sinister collector in Chicago.

Adam Langer, the narrator of this deft and wide-ranging novel by the author of the same name, tells the intertwining tales of two writers navigating a plot neither one of them could hav
Paperback, 269 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Open Road Media E-riginal
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Will Byrnes
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Whenever I saw Salinger’s novels or story collections on my friends’ bookshelves, or when I heard authors…talk about how much they admired the guy, I wondered how those books could have influenced them so greatly. I wondered too how Mr. Salinger—in seclusion for more than forty years in Cornish, New Hampshire—felt about the readers who admired his work. If somehow knowing he had touched Hinckley and Chapman and, later, Jared Lee Loughner, who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, had convinced
The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer

'“Every criminal would be an artist if he had the talent, and every artist would become a criminal if he had the guts.”

This quote is the center of this thriller. A struggling author, with financial as well as marriage problems, encounters a man who asks him to write a book just for him, with secrecy being the key which will unlock the ultimate payment of the author's life. It will simply wash away all the hang-ups, problems, issues and everything else money c
Sam Quixote
Jun 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
It was around the 25% mark (I read this on a Kindle) when any semblance of a premise appeared - up until then it was the mundane ramblings of an unemployed literary editor. A mysterious wealthy man called Dex Dunford approaches crime novelist Conner Joyce to write a novel for him – but only for him. Ok, I thought, where’s this headed? Hopefully somewhere good!

Around the 50% mark nothing further had happened. Around the 75% mark, after some overwrought kitchen-sink drama, a half-hearted attempt a
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tania by: margitte
Shelves: fiction
And yet, wasn't the terrific thing about stories the fact that they joined readers together, that they made people realize that they were not alone in their hopes, dreams and fears?

Although I enjoyed this easy-reading thriller, I could not really connect with the characters. It was interesting to read about the current state of publishing in a novel, as opposed to non-fiction. I thought the plot was good, but it became a bit far-fetched towards the end. This is not my normal genre though, and I'
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Writing: Not just for staid intellectuals

I loved Langer’s “Thieves of Manhattan” so I was excited to read “The Salinger Contract”. There are lots of literary references as the title would indicate and the mystery is highly inventive. Adam is a stay at home dad of two toddler girls with a wife who’s an academic. He has one book under his belt but has not been able to get going with a second so he’s intrigued when a fellow author, Connor Joyce, involves him in his writing and in a true life myster
Won in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. Written to formula, very simple and slightly clever, no big words or complex thoughts, yet still a fun and satisfying mystery/thriller with some "inside" dirt on writers and publishing. Ten bucks says it will be a Tom Hanks movie within a few years (I'm guessing it was written with this end in mind) along the lines of Da Vinci Code, which I kept being reminded of with its attention-holding 2 and 3 page "chapters." On a rare positive, it does NOT contain g ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, netgalley
The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer is a September,2013 release, published by Open Road Integrated Media. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Conner Joyce had enjoyed a long career as a mystery/thriller writer. Now, however, only a handful of people show up for his book signings. Instead, the lines are out into the street to have the latest vampire/wizard book signed.
Conner's work has become stale and clichéd. When Connor is approach
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is my second read by the author, since I liked Thieves in Manhattan so much. The Salinger Contract doesn't disappoint, although doesn't wow quite as much either. It follows the same formula of art imitating life imitating art, cleverly blurring the boundaries to make for a very compelling literary thriller. Literary in both senses, well written and pertaining to literature. There is a line in the book that sums up the idea behind the plot perfectly, something like criminals would be artists ...more
Larry H
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Wow, this was fun. Part mystery, part riff on the literary world, all completely compelling.

Adam Langer is a stay-at-home dad living in Bloomington, Indiana, caring for his two daughters, Beatrice and Ramona (sound familiar, Beverly Cleary fans?), while his wife Sabine, is a college professor. Adam fondly remembers his days as books editor for the now-defunct Lit magazine, which allowed him to meet authors whose careers he had admired.

His time with the magazine also foste
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Note: I received this book for free from NetGalley.

An intriguing premise, and an interesting enough plot to make me follow it all the way through. But there certainly was a lot of padding. It felt like enough material for a concise short story, but as a novel, there was way too much stalling. For example, I lost track of how many times the narrator mentioned that his favorite writers were J.D. Salinger, Jaroslaw Dudek, Thomas Pynchon, Harper Lee, Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. And any time one
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The narrator Adam Langer (also the author's name)is a struggling novelist who had one successful semi-autobiographical book, the content of which estranged him from his family. Living in a college town where his wife, who teaches at the university, he is now a house husband who occasionally dabbles in writing. His world turns upside down when he goes to a talk by an author of thrillers he admirers, Connor Joyce be befriends him with a tale of a wealthy literary enthusiast who pays huge sums to c ...more
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in fiction about writers and writing; anyone from Chicago
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: Will's review on GR
What is the relationship between author and reader? It's probably every author's dream to have thousands, perhaps millions, of avid followers. – the seductiveness of celebrity. But what about those relatives and friends who, rightly or wrongly, see themselves mocked and betrayed in the author's writing? On a less personal level, what about the readers who delude themselves into thinking they “know” the author. And what a shock to discover that behind that literary talent lurks a loutish self-agg ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Adam Langer has a special talent for writing enjoyable books that center on the experience of reading and the business of writing. In the "Salinger Contract" he plays with the boundaries between reader and author to good effect. His character Conner Joyce, an author, describes how as a kid reading "Catcher In The Rye" he "fantasized that his favorite books had been written only for him". At another point the narrator, who may or may not be Adam Langer, says about his own efforts, "maybe the idea ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Salinger Contract appealed on the strength of the title alone, but turned out to be much more!

A literary mystery that has tension so tight you could almost strum the chord, The Salinger Contract presents a premise so fascinating you wonder if it could really happen...or if it has happened.

The story's narrator is Adam Langer. The author is Adam Langer. A curious detail that adds to the questions provoked by the premise (which I won't spoil for you).

From the Book Description:
Adam is a writer
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense, mystery
What an odd little book. I'm not even sure how to describe it, but I did like it. In some ways it reminded me of that horrid Scott Westerfeld book with alternating viewpoints - Afterworlds. They both discuss the current state of publishing and are a little (or a lot) meta. This book was vastly more interesting, however. My only complaint was the style of writing made it difficult for me to buy into the concept or get engrossed in the story. The story-telling technique meant that everything was t ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
What could have been an excellent film noir short story with a great "literary insider" bent, instead is a long dragging story that goes nowhere for the entire book and then "ends with a bang" (which isn't even a surprise, because the author told us that's how it would end). We read the same scenes and descriptions over and over and over again, such as Dex's "ornate loopy handwriting," and the dark streets Connor seems to walk up and down all night long. Instead of a tight, suspenseful sprint, w ...more
Light thriller material, based in the world of literature and post-housing crash America. Not too bad, but not the best thriller in the world either. I still managed to finish it in a few days, though.
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always found myself drawn to books about books. It is a natural consequence of being an avid, some would say addicted, reader. Books at the center of a crime? Books as a force to bring together disparate misfits? Books about magical books? Books about the publishing business? Books about the people who write books? Cover blurbs mentioning any of these will get me interested enough to pick up a title and give it a go.

Books about writers are especially fascinating. Now that I am securely mi
Kathleen Flynn
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: metafiction
A strange mix of genres. I very much enjoyed the domestic humor, the metafictional conceits and the stabs at the publishing industry.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
With the recent release of the J. D. Salinger biography and documentary, this novel’s appearance is timely. The non-fiction suggests why Salinger chose to avoid the limelight; the novel offers an alternate explanation for his withdrawal – and that of other writers like Harper Lee, B. Travern, and Thomas Pynchon.

The narrator is Adam Langer, a house-husband/stay-at-home dad, who once conducted interviews for a literary magazine and wrote a single novel, “its basis in autobiography” in that it conc
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it

I was pleasantly surprised with The Salinger Contract. This is a theme mystery, focusing on literature, and I'm always skeptical of theme mysteries (cat mystery novels, and now yoga mystery novels? really?). However, this book worked. As I love books and I'm interested in writing, I appreciated the look into the life of the less glamorous authors out there. The lives and livelihoods of average authors are made charming, if bleak, here. The Salinger Contract is a glimpse into t
Richard Gazala
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Adam Langer's excellent book, "The Salinger Contract," comes out during a time flush with new J.D. Salinger materials currently being and soon to be released. A biography by David Shields and Shane Salerno just came out to accompany a new Salinger documentary, both of which breathlessly anticipate a series of posthumous publications of previously unpublished Salinger works slated to start appearing in 2015.

Despite what its title may otherwise intimate, Langer's work is a not another Salinger bio
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Salinger Contract
Adam Langer


This is the story of two "friends" who are both authors and the deceptions they become involved in and the lies they tell each other.

My thoughts after reading this book...

First of all...let's be real here. The fun of reading this book is the mystery and adventure that these authors get themselves involved with. Both are sort of burned out of writing. Connor writes police thrillers but his latest book is not really selling well. Adam...the book's
Julian Froment
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the authors style and found it very difficult to put this book down. I was always eager to know what was going to happen next, always wanting to read just a few more pages.

The plot was interesting and filled with suspense. The characters well rounded and very real. I loved the literary context of this book, and the way that famous authors were weaved in to this story of what was ultimately the escapades of a criminal mastermind.

There were always a few surprise
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This offbeat, literary mystery is a refreshing change for us mystery
readers from the formulaic police and detective procedurals, the
‘cozies’, and the others that we have grown too used to.

Imagine a billionaire, so wealthy, that he can pay well known writers –
J.D. Salinger, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote – to name a few, to write books only for him – that no other will see – except, perhaps,
his body guard. Imagine what happens if a writer violates the secrecy section of his contract, and you have
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, thriller
This is a clever and unusual metafiction about writing and publishing in the guise of a crime thriller. How Langer manages to get in all the angles in a short novel where the action mainly consists of two writers telling stories and writing them is kind of amazing. Langer grew up about a mile from where I did and where I currently live, so I was especially taken with the Chicago references. This book was much better than his autobiographical Crossing California (as in California Ave., Rogers Par ...more
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Anna by: goodreads
"He admired writers whose own stories were as interesting as the ones they wrote.”

Written by a former Chicagoan, the book has a really interesting premise with a story within a story ... lots of namedropping of certain kinds of authors, lots of literary references, some dark humor, some suspense as well as some commentary about the worlds of publishing and academia.
It's well written, but would have been even better if parts of it did not sound so whiny.

"I have the same fantasy every time I re
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Michel by: Margitte
Shelves: lit, 1st_read
GoodReads FirstRead Book.

I promised a review, and I wish I could give a glowing one. I mean, it's not a bad book, it's even pretty good, once you get over all the name dropping.
It's just that I got a little bored, nah, impatient rather. The intrigue kept me reading till the end, but it was a bit slow and, sorry about that, repetitive. And it made me feel like I was reading not so much a novel, but a theater play with author comments. A succession of intellectual dialogs, interrupted by life some
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Adam Langer, the narrator of this story, is a stay at home dad with one published novel under his belt and no other novels forthcoming. He is friends with the thriller writer Conner Joyce, who confides in Adam about the strange proposition received from a fan and all of its eventualities. This was a book about books (love those!), famous one hit wonder novelists, and a fun suspense/thriller to boot. Liked it quite a bit and I will always think of this book whenever anyone talks about JD Salinger ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a fun little thriller for book lovers - lots of favorite authors mentioned (and the narrator's children are named Ramona and Beatrice!) and, without spoilers, the idea of the "afterlibrary" is alive and well. The end is a bit spotty but the ride is lots of fun.
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Adam Langer is a journalist, author, playwright and filmmaker.

His work has been featured most recently on NPR's Selected Shorts, in The Best Men's Stage Monologues 2000, and The Best Women's Stage Monologues 2000, as well as in the Chicago Reader's Fiction Issue, and in the literary magazine Salt Hill. His plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and numerous othe
More about Adam Langer

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“The story’s what matters; spelling’s overrated.” 5 likes
“I have the same fantasy every time I read a book I love, no matter who wrote it, no matter when it was written. That the author has written his book only for me.” 5 likes
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