Summer Reading Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire



It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$15.00
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
3 Remote Warehouse Literature- General
1 Remote Warehouse General- General

The Thieves of Manhattan

by

The Thieves of Manhattan Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Girl, you know it’s true . . .

Milli Vanilli

THE CONFIDENT MAN

To tell you the truth, I’d have noticed the guy even if Faye hadn’t pointed him out to me. He was slicker than the usual Morningside Coffee crowd—off-white linen suit, black silk shirt buttoned to the throat, Jonathan Franzen–style designer glasses—but what made me stop wiping tables and look just a bit longer was the fact that he was reading a copy of Blade by Blade. That autumn, it seemed as though Blade Markham’s book was everywhere—every subway station corridor had posters with that canary yellow book cover on them; every bookstore window displayed a cardboard cutout of a glowering Blade sporting a nine o’clock shadow; half the suckers who sat next to me on the bus were reading that so-called memoir.

Faye, strands of red hair dangling past her olive green eyes from under her Morningside Coffee visor, was humming “Dust in the Wind” and absentmindedly drawing a sketch of the guy on her notepad. She’d written “Confident Man” underneath it. That’s how the name stuck with me. Meanwhile, bitter, gossipy Joseph, all 315 pounds of him, hunched over the counter, going over lines for an audition, vainly hoping that some casting director wanted a guy his size with white-boy dreadlocks, flip-flops, and a goatee. It had been another slow night, and now the Confident Man was the only customer left in the shop.

“Too bad his taste in books doesn’t match his taste in clothes,” Faye said to me. She smiled and returned to her sketch.

Faye Curry was probably already trying to flirt with me then, but I had a girl, Anya Petrescu. Just about everything Faye said tended to go right past me anyway. Artsy and bookish guys always lurked at the counter and chatted her up because she had a droll wit and liked to be distracted when she was working, but she was way too subtle for me. She had the looks and smarts I tended to notice only after the fact, usually after the woman in question had gotten engaged to someone else or had already left town or had decided she was done with men. Back then, with her torn jeans, baseball caps, vintage concert shirts, and paint-spattered boots, I wasn’t sure if she was into guys anyway. So that night I wasn’t focusing on the fact that she was grinning at me instead of scowling, that she was wearing perfume or maybe using new shampoo. That night, I was more interested in the book the Confident Man was reading.

“Bogus pile of crap,” I muttered. I didn’t realize I’d said it out loud. But Joseph shot me a glance and Faye smiled at me again as if both of them had heard. I looked back down and went on wiping the tables, putting the chairs up, trying to stop thinking about that book and Blade Markham.

Just the night before, during yet another bout of writer’s block and insomnia, I’d been flipping channels when I stumbled on Markham blowing hard on a rebroadcast of Pam Layne’s daytime talk show. There the guy was, hawking his memoir on the biggest book show going, yammering about his heroin addiction and the time he spent with the Crips and the month he went AWOL during the first Gulf War and his conversion to Buddhism and whatever else he’d made up and sold to Merrill Books—a half million bucks for the North American rights alone. I didn’t believe a word of it, but Layne’s studio audience couldn’t get enough, gasping and clapping and laughing as Markham spouted one lie after another. All the while, Pam Layne kept up her credulous questions, using street slang that must have been written on cue cards by whichever one of her assistants had actually read the book:

“Don’t you worry that some of these men you mention in your book, some of these hustlas, might try to put a cap in yo’ ass?” she asked Blade. “That they might try to take yo’ ass out?”

“Naw, that ain’t too likely,” Blade told Pam. “You know, sistuh, the punks I wrote about in my book, they all dead, yo.”

Up there on that TV talk show set, Blade was acting like some old-school hip-hopper, throwing his arms out, crossing them over his chest, flashing made-up gang signs, ending all his sentences with “yo,” even though he was probably just some rich boy from Maplewood, New Jersey, whose real name was Blaine Markowitz—that’s what Anya and I used to joke anyway. Everything about Blade Markham seemed like some kind of lie—his words, his shabby outfit that he’d probably planned out a week in advance, even the cross he wore around his neck.

“It ain’t a cross for Christ; it’s a T for Truth, yo,” he told Pam Layne. That’s when I flipped off the TV, went back to bed in my clothes, and tried in vain to think of a story to write, tried in vain to get some sleep.

Now here in the coffee shop was the Confident Man, one more Blade Markham fan than I could stand. So when I went over to his table and told him we were closing and that he had to scram, I might have sounded harsher than I intended. Faye bust out laughing, and Joseph, who seemed always to be looking for just the right time to can me, flashed a “one more outburst and you’re gone” glare.

The Confident Man dog-eared a page of his book, put on his black cashmere gogol, belted it, went over to the tip jar, and stuffed in a twenty-dollar bill, which just about doubled our tips for the night. He walked out onto Broadway without saying a word.

“Think that guy craves you,” Faye said, raising one eyebrow. Joseph snickered—jokes at my expense always cracked him up. I finished cleaning, collected my share of the tips from Joseph, said sayonara to Faye, and headed down to the KGB Bar to meet Anya. By the time I got there, I was still stewing about Blade by Blade, but I had all but forgotten the Confident Man.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

numanfan, February 17, 2011 (view all comments by numanfan)
This is quite the journey of an everyday struggling writer that gets caught up in the caper of his life. You get the sense with this far fetched story that the barista, your server, even the guy next to you on the train could be the struggling writer. This is a very funny story. Like lasagna, without giving too much away, there are layers of repressed rage, guilt, self-doubt, and revenge that get served up when there is the least control.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Daniel Hatch, August 21, 2010 (view all comments by Daniel Hatch)
Adam Langer's new novel is a great read, especially for those struggling on the outskirts of a writing career. The book is worth it for all the literary referencs alone but the characters and story stand on their own. The depiction of the New York writing community was spot on. You'll enjoy this one.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400068913
Author:
Langer, Adam
Publisher:
Spiegel & Grau
Subject:
Humorous fiction
Subject:
Manhattan (new york, n.y.)
Subject:
Crime
Subject:
Humorous
Subject:
General
Subject:
General-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20100731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.04x5.26x.59 in. .44 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Lady of the Butterflies Used Hardcover $5.95
  2. The Bucolic Plague: How Two...
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  3. Wish Her Safe at Home (New York... Used Trade Paper $7.95

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Crime

The Thieves of Manhattan New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.00 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Spiegel & Grau - English 9781400068913 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Langer (Crossing California) delivers an ber-hip caper that pays homage to and skewers the state of publishing and flash-in-the-pan authors. Aspiring writer Ian Minot toils in a New York City diner, enraged because he can't get published. His jealousy is pushed to the edge because he suspects the bestselling memoir about drug addiction and being in a gang by no-talent Blade Markham is a fake. Then Ian's Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, easily finds a publisher for her short stories. Ian becomes the latest author to be embroiled in a headline-making literary scam when he can't resist a scheme in which he passes off another man's novel about a valuable manuscript as his own memoir. The consummate con game takes a deadly turn after Ian realizes he doesn't understand the ramifications of his book nor does he control his emerging career. Part Bright Lights, Big City, part The Grifters, this delicious satire of the literary world is peppered with slang so trendy a glossary is included. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "How many novels begin with a Milli Vanilli quote? In the case of the funny and sharp Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer, the lyric 'Girl you know it's true' is particularly apt, as this clever tale blurs fact and fiction to riotous effect."
"Review" by , "Wonderfully mischievous...as soulful and morally committed as it is funny and clever....If The Thieves of Manhattan were nothing more than a boisterous skewering of the crisis-ridden publishing industry...it would still be a gas. But Langer has grander existential plans."
"Review" by , "Just when you want a surprising twist, Langer delivers several. The truth is, he's got a wild imagination."
"Review" by , "A dizzyingly clever novel from Langer that explores the thin line between fact and fiction, and between memoir and novel....Lots of fun."
"Review" by , "A dizzyingly inventive comic thriller that is at once a sardonic take on the hypocrisies of the publishing world and an exploration of the sometimes fluid boundaries between the real and the imaginative in literature. Smart, original, and highly recommended."
"Review" by , "As a lampoon of the modern book industry, The Thieves of Manhattan is near perfection. With its vicious satire of the culture of celebrity and the loss of principles in the A Million Little Pieces scandal, it makes an exciting read that will put a dark smile on the face of anyone discouraged by the downward spiral of literature."
"Review" by , "Hysterically funny....Langer has written an immensely clever novel, by turns tenderhearted and satirical....The Thieves of Manhattan is finally a marvelous yarn, a glorious paean to good books and to those who shepherd them into the world, a tale of redemption as cheering as Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys."
"Review" by , "The Thieves of Manhattan is a sly and cutting riff on the book-publishing world that is quite funny unless you happen to be an author, in which case the novel will make you consider a more sensible profession — like being a rodeo clown, for example, or a crab-fisherman in the Bering Sea."
"Synopsis" by , The famously false memoirs of James Frey may be yesterday’s news, but as this funny riff reminds us, literary fakes are as old as literature itself. Ian Minot is an aspiring writer who labors over short stories that seem destined to remain unread. His beautiful Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, finds success more easily—and leaves Ian for Blade Markham, a bloviating ex-gangbanger whose “so-called memoir” is a best-seller. When Ian is approached by ex-editor Jed Roth, who wants Ian to publish Jed’s pulpy tale of book theft and murder as a memoir, then renounce it, it’s a chance for both of them to get revenge: Jed on his former employer, and Ian on the world. Although Langer may be too cute for some (he employs made-up slang in which a penis is a portnoy), he does an engaging job with the hall-of-mirrors plot. And if readers can predict that the book they’re reading is the one that Ian ends up writing, they’ll never guess the ending. Just when you want a surprising twist, Langer delivers several.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.