Scott's Reviews > The Thieves of Manhattan

The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer
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's review
Jul 12, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010, action, adult-books, mystery-and-or-noir, older-teens, postmodern, second-half-of-2010, suspense
Read from August 15 to 25, 2010

So I think you have to be a bit pretentious to like this book. It has its own literary language; I think the book refers to it kind of like Clockwork Orange's language. It isn't that in-depth, or that cool, and it never starts to flow as easily as CO's does once you get used to it. Calling black frames Franzen's (like Jonathan Franzen) or overcoats Gogols is kind of douche-y, not clever. But Langer goes for it, he accepts that it's kind of douche-y and has a free-wheeling good time with it.
Then there is the noir-ish caper, possible memoir, that is presented as a novel of a struggling writer meeting a con man who convinces him to present a novel as a memoir to sham the publishing world and to make him famous in his infamy. It works well as it is presented, even allowing you to question if it is indeed something that actually happened to Langer or is it just a clever idea for a novel that plays with meta, postmodern aspects. It is brisk and the twists are fun. The dialogue and con are sharp and well thought out. But everything in it is a little too easy. James Frey took his beatings, and he wasn't the only one. But Langer is obviously focused on still ribbing Frey. I am a huge Frey supporter; I think he is a talented writer, even if he fibbed a little or a lot. Some don't agree, but that is their opinion and this is mine. That aside . . . Langer doesn't really have anything fresh to say. It isn't really a sharp satire. It's a great read, I wanted to keep turning the pages, but he takes zero risks. James Frey is an easy target, even the publishing world's lax stance on memoirs all seem like easy targets. He doesn't try too hard to really find any significant barbs. So when a joke at their expense comes up, it falls flat. If it had really been out to prove something, or be a razor tongued satire, I think Langer would have been the perfect writer. His writing is effortless, and I think if he'd been braver, I would have laughed more or found his "Novel" more profound. As stands, I thought it was pretty fun as a crime novel.

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Reading Progress

08/15/2010 page 50
19.0% "The style, literary namedropping meets diablo codyisms, is not really my style. I find it disingenuous. But at the same time that is what it's trying to be, so i will give it a little while longer."
08/16/2010 page 100
39.0% "As long as it doesn't cross the line between clever and too clever I will love this book."
08/22/2010 page 259
100.0% "This was a fun diversion. But I've read better noir and better con games."
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