The Salinger Contract
Open Road Media, 2013
The Salinger Contract is a novel within the novel, written by Adam Langer the character. Langer the character is the author of a book of memoirs in the form of a novel about the search for his father, whom Adam had never seen. Adam and his wife Sabina lived in New York, where Adam worked in a literary magazine. But with the arrive of hard times for literary magazines, publishing houses and the economy in general, Adam and his wife and their two daughters left New York City and moved to a small town of Bloomington, Indiana, where the wife of Adam gets a teaching position in the University, and Adam is staying home with the kids and thinking on his second book.
While working at the magazine, Adam wrote small essays on writers he met and interviewed. So Adam had once met the author of thrillers Conner Joyce. Joyce then was very popular with his series about a supercop. Joyce said to Langer in an interview that he was always attracted to the writers, hiding themselves from the public - Salinger, Dudek, Pynchon, and others. In his youth, he even wrote letters to all these hermits, but never received a response.
And six years after the interview Adam accidentally stumbles in a bookstore to an invitation to a meeting with the writer Joyce, who has a new book coming out. Adam comes to a meeting, where, in addition to him, only ten people come to see the writer. After reading Adam and Connor go to a bar where they drinks and discuss the old days. Conner complaines that his writing career, apparently, is coming to an end. His novels can no longer find a reader, and he does not know what to do in the future. Adam after meeting with Conner drives to the hotel and thinks that now he will not see Joyce a few more years. But the next evening, Conner calls Adam, which promises to call back, but doesn’t catch Joyce at the hotel. After a while, Conner again calls and asks for a meeting. They meet in a small hotel near Chicago.
Joyce promises Adam to tell every incredible thing that has happened since their last meeting. Joyce convinced that only Adam could believe his story.
If one calls The Salinger Contract a literary mystery, it will reveal the essence of the novel only for 15 percent. Langer’s novel is more complexed and does not fit into the genre framework. It is literaturocentric, yes, but it is a novel about writers, with accessible style, not opressing wih academicism or a meticulous analysis of, for example, a Chinese poem of VII century. It is not necessary to be an expert on Salinger and Mailer or be a collector of first editions to get an indescribable pleasure from reading this book.
About The Salinger Contract would be true to say that this is a novel-fiddle, nimble, equivocate, sham, and a novel-needle, sharp, piercing with its poignant satire on the world of writers, publishers and readers. The real Adam Langer through Adam Langer the narrator tells the amazing story, often giving the word to Conner Joyce. The book turns to the reader that side and this side and presents a fair amount of surprises that you never know what's what. It's no wonder, since the novel is, in fact, about the two liars – and what is a writer, if not a teller of lies? And this is the case when you let to feed yourself a line, because the writer so excitingly tells nonsense, which is incredibly hard to believe.
The book collector Dex says that he likes writers who are attentive to detail, making the book believable. Joyce, in Dex’s opinion, always tried to make his best novels believable. Langer is also from this category of writers. He fascinatingly tells about the publishing kitchen, about the literary life of the city (and small town’s as well), the pain of the writer, and everywhere Langer throws plausible details. The Salinger Contract is also pretty sharp satire on the current state of things in the literary world, so some places may be an exaggeration or distortion, but even in this case you won’t find anywhere fake notes.
The book is generally relevant, however, to a greater extent for the Americans. There is a full-time dad, blogs making fun of professors and HBO pilots, and the popularity of eBook devices, and a university scandal, and all this at the same time is real life and also a parody on a modern American life (largely because of this the book is pretty funny).
Langer in his book laughed at the writer and the reader, but also managed to ask serious questions - about the fate of writers, parental responsibility, the importance of literature.
I will finish this with one word: must-read.