Book recommendation! (No spoilers outside of what is written in the blurb on the back of the book).
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz.
This was a rare thing for me. I don’t usually grab a book off the shelf in the supermarket just because of the cover. My tbr list is already so long I try not to add to it. But something drew me to this one. I was walking by and it caught my eye.
I read the back of the book and the first page in the store and felt the rare excitement of discovering a voice that I connected with. It wasn’t bland or generic storytelling. It was something more interesting. It was compelling. Jean knows how to put words together in that rare and satisfying way.
People get bored of authors making the main character of their book an author. But as an author, I get it. She captures the writer’s life so well. It rang true for me. Maybe a little too true. I felt seen.
In the story the main character, Jake, teaches writing. One of his students, a particularly arrogant man named Evan Parker, talks about having a plot that can’t fail. Jake disregards him, thinking he’s just an overconfident and inexperienced novice. Until he is told the story, and gets to read the first few pages. The plot really was a rare thing. It was unique. A story that has never been told before. A guaranteed bestseller. The holy grail of story. Even the worst writer couldn’t fail with this plot. And then Evan Parker dies, taking the plot with him. The novel unfinished. Barely started even.
Jake decides to use the plot. He writes the novel and becomes hugely successful. The book is called Crib.
The problem is, somebody knows what Jake has done.
A lesser writer could have set herself up to fail. Jean Hanff Korelitz now has to deliver on the goods. The fictional plot in her book has to be believable as unique and great. I figured, as I was reading, that maybe we would never find out what the unique plot was. But no. Jean doesn’t shy away. Over the course of The Plot there are chapters of the fictional novel, Crib, within. We get to read parts of the unique novel. And by the end of the book we find out what the plot is.
I loved this book. The standard of writing is exceptional and I was kind of sad when it was over. I’ll be going back and looking at Jean’s previous books for sure.