Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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 could possibly solve. How can he say 'no'. 

Enters the bad and the bizarre: '“Isn’t that why all writers write? To inspire their readers?”

"Come now," Dex told Conner. "There is nothing mysterious here. Everything is exactly as it appears. Maybe even too much so. I have told you I am a fan of your work. I have said that your work inspires me. I have asked you to write a book for me. I have explained why."
J.D. Salinger inspired more than dreamy-eyed romantics on a thriller-high with his tales, written in seclusion for more than forty years in Cornish, New Hampshire. He was also the bubbles in the champagne of the infamous John Hinckley(attempted onslaught on Ronald Reagan's life), Mark David Chapman(John Lennon's assassin) and later Jared Lee Loughner, who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. 

The fictional suspense becomes a cruel reality when the author is challenged to turn his back on his own brilliant tale, or persist and declare himself the noble innocent. 

Comments: The book addresses the debate around criminals taking their cue from their favorite author's books. However, it was not the reason why I read the book at all. I wanted to read a crime thriller, be entertained, and relish the after effects of a adrenaline booster. 

When an author can climb into my head and read my thoughts, knows what I want, from the get go, the book will be ravished, giving up everything near and dear to make it a one-sitting experience. This book was one of those.

For the less-informed, such as yours truly, this book provides the behind-the-scenes thrill of the current publishing industry - the plummeting book sales, the blogging phenomenon, the influence of online reviews being often less forgiving than the printed versions, the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. And then of course, it confronts the reader about our reactions after reading it. 

Two ingenious tales are snaked through the narrative, involving two authors with both their families being trapped in an existential panic. They are basically honest people pushed to their limits forced to make choices they wouldn't have made under ordinary circumstances

Books can safe or destroy lives. Sometimes in fiction you had to mute reality in order to make it seem more believable. 

The most important issue addressed in the book is:where does fiction stop and reality begins. Where does the responsibility of the author ends when fiction is used by criminals as a do-it-yourself manual for real crimes. 

I am not the brightest peanut in the packet when it comes to delving deep and thoroughly into the hidden meanings behind an author's motives in writing their stories. Sometimes I do want to bestow such pain on myself, but most of the time, I use reading as a stimulant to relax!

The Salinger Contract did just that, but also left me pondering the content of the tale for weeks afterwards. The suspense thriller did what it was suppose to do - be an excellent addition to the genre. The plot, story line and drama were a relentless and riveting journey through emotions and thoughts. 

However, the author also used the drama to address social responsibility by both authors and readers. And that's where the brain-drain started for me. It made me think about it days on end. Did the writer inspired the reader? What do you think? Did I want to act upon the suggestions in the book to commit a crime? No. 

Suggestion is the most powerful tool in the world. It is used in every single action of the human existence. It preys on the subconscious. One of the most successful ads ever made was for Disprins. The initial ad had only a glass of water on the table, and one Disprin being dropped into it to relief headaches and flu symptoms. The same glass of water was again used in the follow-up ad. But this time two Disprins were dropped in. The sales immediately doubled! 

So, for what it's worth, here is my take on crime-inspired-by-books: No author can plant a disorder in a person's psyche. The disorder was already hiding in the subconscious. A book can just be a final (and probably not the first) trigger of lunatic behavior. As can be seen in the many different opinions and experiences of books by different readers, different reactions are inspired. It becomes a totally different ball game when a novel is used to hide a manual for crime. Salinger never intended to do that, nor does this book. 

Five flashing stars for this brilliant suspense thriller! There is not a single dull moment anywhere in this book. I could not stop reading it until it was all finished. I am definitely an Adam Langer fan after reading this book. 

It is a must-read for EVERYONE: wanna-be authors, reviewers and readers alike. The story in itself is a fast flowing suspense drama incorporating the highly interesting background of the publishing industry. 

If the book was intended as a commentary on social responsibility by an author, it passed with flying colors. But it was so much more than that. It is one of the best crime thrillers I have ever read. 

It is a crime in itself NOT TO READ IT!



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 have ever imagined. There may be no other escape than to write their way out of it.
Adam is a writer and stay-at-home dad in Bloomington, Indiana, drawn into an uneasy friendship with the charismatic and bestselling thriller author Conner Joyce. Conner is having trouble writing his next book, and when a menacing stranger approaches him with an odd—and lucrative—proposal, events quickly begin to spiral out of control.
A novel of literary crimes and misdemeanors, The Salinger Contract will delight anyone who loves a fast-paced story told with humor, wit, and intrigue.




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 other cities throughout the United States. His 2000 play, Coaster, received rave reviews from numerous publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

He is the writer and director of the film The Blank Page, distributed by Troma. In addition to his novels,Crossing CaliforniaEllington BoulevardThe Washington Story and The Thieves of Manhattan, Langer is the author of three nonfiction reference works: CitySmart Guide to ChicagoFilm Festival Guide, and The Madness of Art. He also wrote a memoir about his father, My Father's Bonus March.

As a journalist, he worked as a features writer and theater critic for the Chicago Reader and has had his work published in numerous newspapers and periodicals, including Mother Jones, the Chicago TribuneMen's Journal and Rolling Stone.

Langer holds a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. from the University of Illinois. He was a playwright-in-residence at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and was a winner of a National Arts Journalism fellowship at Columbia University (2000-2001). He has lectured on writing and journalism at Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia College, and Pace University. He has been a frequent radio and television guest in Chicago and New York and has been featured on such stations as WGN-TV, CNN Headline News, Fox News, E! Entertainment Network, and National Public Radio, among others.

He lives in New York City.


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