Synopses & Reviews
"Life is a game: it's a movie and it's a book. It's not always easy, but there is always a way. You just have to look at it the right way."
In this stunning debut, Daniel Wagner delivers a soulful examination of the forces that both drive us and oppose us. Jim Frazier is a writer with very little to show for it. He worries that the only way to achieve success is to lower the bar, sell out, and pander to commercialism. Meanwhile, somewhere far away, a woman named Liz and a man named Lou are stranded on a desert island. While they are faced with an obviously serious problem, the two have some more important issues to discuss. As these two seemingly separate stories converge, Wagner presents a meditation on the worlds we inhabit that will resonate long after the credits roll and the last page has been turned.
"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." Publishers Weekly
"A sly novel....Figuring out what is fiction and what is reality is half the fun of this book." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"...I was absolutely mesmerized by it from the start to finish." Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and The Buffalo Soldier
"A must-read for fans of Memento and Adaptation." Eric Garcia, author of Matchstick Men
About the Author
Daniel Wagner lives in Basel, Switzerland. A Movie...and A Book is his first novel.