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Review Excerpts


The Onion - August 26, 2010
"Langer, best known for a number of carefully nuanced close-ups on the young denizens of Chicago and New York, books that rarely leave the confines of so-called literary fiction, seems more playful in this novel, which purportedly contains any number of puzzles readers can solve at home. It starts in his comfort zone, and by the end, readers won’t blink an eye when the protagonist leaps to board an empty boxcar on a speeding train... Is this meant as a satire of the age of memoirs revealed as fakes? Is it a “realistic” work that gradually grows dafter? Or is it a postmodern attempt to examine how the novel has tried to escape its overplotted, barn-burner ancestors and become something more self-important? It flits between all of these styles... but as Langer seems to say with a smirk, does that matter when the story is so ripping good?"
-- Todd VanDerWerff

New York Times - August 18, 2010
You may need to be a religious reader of GalleyCat to get all the jokes in Adam Langer’s publishing industry satire, but if you know the name James Frey you’re off to a good start. Mr. Langer’s hero, a mopey novelist/barista named Ian Minot, can’t bear to watch the faux gang-banger Blade Markham make a mint off his “so-called” memoir, “Blade by Blade.” Losing his girlfriend, Anya, to the literary poseur — just as her star rises after a downtown reading — is too much to bear. Ian decides to get his revenge on the entire book biz, “a frightened industry more concerned with its own survival than its legacy,” by peddling another writer’s unpublished fiction as his own outlandish life story. Published as a paperback original, “The Thieves of Manhattan” comes with its own glossary, allowing Mr. Langer to define the verb in a sentence like this: “The story was woolfing out of me in one long, unpunctuated stream.”
-- Scott Heller

Bloomberg - Aug 17, 2010
Fake Memoir Brings Deadly Shakespeare, Thuggish Librarian to Life.
"Adam Langer’s “The Thieves of Manhattan” is a knowing love letter to literature both high- and lowbrow. Libraries and bookstores are torched, agents and editors are depicted as ignorant cynics, yet the thrill of storytelling endures....This isn’t just a novel for literary insiders. Nor, despite its blistering cynicism, is it a book without heart. While Langer depicts an industry in which super-agents judge an author’s talent by his “franzens” (eyeglasses) and editors rarely read more than a book’s first few pages, even at his most caustic, he remains focused on spinning a properly engrossing tale. Never mind the readings in hipster haunts, the cocktail parties in palatial apartments and the trendy eyewear -- it’s the stories that count, he reminds us."
-- Hephzibah Anderson

The Washington Post - Saturday, August 14, 2010
"Nothing is quite what it appears, and nobody quite who or what they claim to be in this rollicking romp through bookdom and beyond...This is a very funny book with some very serious messages..."
-- Frances Stead Sellers

Financial Times, August 9, 2010
"There may be more profound books about the blurring of fact and fiction, but they probably wouldn’t be as funny."
-- Adrian Turpin,

The New Yorker - August 2, 2010
Crime caper meets metafictional satire of the publishing industry in this mischievous novel. Ian Minot, a hard-up writer from Indiana, moonlights as a barista in Manhattan while he watches “raptors and poseurs” rocket to fame on implausible memoirs and derivative stories. When an editor suggests passing off an old novel as a memoir to expose the smugs who spin the literary machine, Minot is sucked into a postmodern confidence game with more layers than a puff pastry. Langer, too, has plenty of schemes. Here a highsmith is a train and a hemingway a sentence, a gogol is an overcoat and a golightly a cocktail dress; a glossary in the back instructs readers in the smirking insider language. Still, until the fake memoir turns real, collapsing the puff into a merely cartoonish adventure, this is a knowing yarn likely to elicit cheshires (as in cat).

National Public Radio (NPR) - August 1, 2010
"The Thieves of Manhattan, an enigmatic new book by Adam Langer, is hard to classify. On one level, it's a novel filled with intrigue and mystery; on another, it's a thinly veiled memoir about a writer's relationship to the publishing industry; on yet another, it could be nothing more than a giant con game..." Click here to see the entire story and/or listen to it...

Dallas Morning News - July 25, 2010
"Read as a novel that incorporates real people in real-life situations but contains obvious fictions, The Thieves of Manhattan is a first-rate satire. Read as a novel that grapples with the precarious boundaries between real-life fiction and fake-life memoir, The Thieves of Manhattan is an intellectual powerhouse, with some laugh-out-loud passages mixed in... a mind-expanding romp along the border of fiction and fact."
-- Steve Weinberg

Newark Star-Ledger - July 25, 2010
"In Adam Langer’s witty new novel “The Thieves of Manhattan,” the writer takes on the fictional literary deceptions perpetrated by Ian Minot, a failed and bitter short-story writer who signs a memoir deal with the devil."
-- Dylan Foley

Pittsburgh Tribune Review - July 25, 2010
""The Thieves of Manhattan" fulfills its mission as an elaborately constructed mystery and a farcical look at the publishing industry. Author Adam Langer has great fun skewering certain segments of the book world - there's a particularly scathing caricature of a high-powered agent - but one of his most prominent devices is naming objects and actions after writers. Franzen's are stylish eyeglasses (after Jonathan Franzen's penchant for fashionable eyewear), a ginsberg (after poet Allen Ginsberg) is an unruly beard, and a hemingway (Ernest Hemingway, of course) is a particularly well-constructed sentence. It's great fun, especially for those even with a cursory interest in books and publishing.
-- Rege Behe

Daily Beast - July 22, 2010
"In his new novel The Thieves of Manhattan, Langer takes the reader into the bitter world of struggling (and not very talented) writer Ian Minot. A coffee-shop Kerouac disgusted by the greed of the publishing industry that rejects him, Ian jumps at a chance to reverse his fortunes and beat the publishers at their own game in the process. 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 for an exciting read that will put a dark smile on the face of anyone discouraged by the downward spiral of literature..."

Miami Herald, July 19, 2010
"The line between reality and fiction is not so much blurred as stomped on in Adam Langer's amusing new novel, a satiric barb aimed directly at the literary world and those who seek to subvert it for fame, money and -- please God -- a shot at Oprah. Author of three novels and a memoir about his father, Langer takes special delight in skewering the New York book world..."
-- Connie Ogle

New York Post - July 19, 2010
"With “Ellington Boulevard,” Langer captured the New York obsession with real estate. In his newest novel, he takes on the Manhattan publishing scene with a plot just wacky enough to be true..."
-- Billy Heller

Los Angeles Times - July 18, 2010
In his wonderfully mischievous new novel, "The Thieves of Manhattan," Adam Langer tells the story of an unpublished fiction writer who can't seem to tell a story other than his own. Then he makes a pact with a handsome literary devil who provides him with a decidedly unsentimental education in genre, commerce, life and love.
That's a lot to wrap your head around, which is par for the course in the postmodern novel. And when an author quotes with equal gusto from Jorge Luis Borges, Pippi Longstocking and Milli Vanilli, one nervously anticipates yet another exercise in promiscuously relativist hipsterism. Yet "The Thieves of Manhattan" is as soulful and morally committed as it is funny and clever. Where his narrator, Ian Minot, is helpless in the face of events real and imaginary, Langer is fully in control of his fictional world.

The Edge Boston - July 13, 2010
"The Thieves of Manhattan is as clever a quick read as you can ever ask for. His character Ian is hilariously hapless and self-deprecating. The book crackles with humor and insight into not only publishing industry corruption (two chapters bear the titles of James Frey books), but also the history of modern literature...”
-- Kyle Thomas Smith

BIBLIOKLEPT - July 13, 2010
"To reveal more of the plot would spoil the twists, turns, and snares of its brisk third act, so we’ll leave summary aside by simply noting that Thieves compels reading to its final page, a reading that you’ll likely complete in one sitting once that third act begins...While plenty of literary comparisons would be apt here, the last act of Thieves reminded me most of the final act of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s marvelous film Adaptation, a film that at once enacts and comments on its own genre status without the pitfalls of academic dithering.... The Thieves of Manhattan is a tightly-plotted, character-driven adventure-crime noir-mystery-hoax-con game novel pretending to be a memoir (pretending to be a novel...) that, despite all its fun metafictional games, never falls into the trap of navel-gazing. Langer gives us a character we can care about and puts him in the middle of a plot we want to see through to its end, but the real testament to Thieves is how much we can still care about that character after the last page. Highly recommended."

The Second Pass - July 13, 2010
"It’s quite a cynical view of the publishing process—or would be, if Roth’s understanding of it didn’t hit so close to home. Langer takes some glee in skewering the very industry that is bringing out his latest book (along with four earlier ones), but it’s clear that he also comes to this story with a real sense of curiosity. Given all the publishing scandals we’ve witnessed over the past several years, what might happen if the line between fact and fiction was blurred even further, if the fake memoir trend was taken to its logical extreme?
Beyond the fun of satire, Langer is interested in the complicated question of what readers really want from books. For Roth, who claims to have never had any interest in writing from his own experience, reading is a way to escape reality..."
-- Eryn Loeb

Observer's VeryShortList.com - July 13, 2010
“How many novels begin with a Milli Vanilli quote? In the case of the funny and sharp The 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… It’s hard to predict where this satiric send-up of the publishing world is going to go, but it’s such an entertaining read that you’ll be willing to follow through every twist and unbelievable turn.”

Huffington Post - July 12, 2010
"The Thieves of Manhattan, a very funny satire on the publishing industry, is full of insider references.... The fast-moving plot gives Langer plenty of opportunity to explore truth versus fiction in prose writing, with stabs at the likes of James Frey in the person of Blade Markham, memoirist of the moment."
-- Anis Shivani

Associated Press - July 12, 2010
Langer's `Thieves' blurs fiction with fact
"Adam Langer seems to delight in blurring the boundary between fact and fiction, much as his characters do. You can feel Langer winking at his audience as he shapes his novel to mimic the fictitious white-knuckled potboiler that propels it. "The Thieves of Manhattan" also serves as a vicious satire of the book business. Informed by the scandal of James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" and other contemporary literary fakes, Langer's novel takes aim at the hypocrisy of publishers so eager to market fact that they encourage authors to lie.
In that regard, "The Thieves of Manhattan" may be to publishing what Joseph Heller's "Catch-22" was to the military."
-- Dan Scheraga

Chicago Sun-Times - July 11, 2010
"Thieves has more games and puzzles than Milton Bradley, but one of the best is the novel’s use of language. A glossary explains a few dozen words encountered throughout the novel, adjectives and nouns and verbs based on names of writers or characters; hence a fitzgerald — for F. Scott — is a drink. They are clever and they enrich the reading... Dropped like treats, they provide little visual/aural thrills throughout... ...There is enough puzzlement here to occupy a book club from first sip to dessert. This book makes a sentence like this make sense: Is this the thing the novel is about or is it the thing about the thing?
Enjoy."

San Francisco Chronicle - Sunday, July 11, 2010
"...Author Adam Langer seems to delight in blurring the boundary between fact and fiction, much as his characters do. You can feel Langer winking at his audience as he shapes his novel to mimic the fictitious white-knuckled potboiler that propels it."

Time Out New York - July 8, 2010
Adam Langer’s new novel is a fantastical, nightmarish vision of cultural entropy.
"...What drives Langer’s black-humored dystopia is his formidable blend of righteous cynicism, screwball noir and socially observant satire. It’s an easily believable netherworld teeming with shit-talking agents and corrupted publishers continually turning bad publicity into profit. And although the novel’s surreal denouement becomes too clever for its own good, Langer leaves you with some serious philosophizing on the increasing interchangeability of concepts like truth and fiction in a media-blitz age..."
-- Michael Sandlin

Chicago Tribune - July 7, 2010
Adam Langer has written an immensely clever novel, by turns tenderhearted and satirical—an affecting, altogether plausible portrait of one writer’s passage through good times and bad. Yes, the book is a send-up of an industry obsessed with the bottom line and embarrassingly susceptible to James Frey’s snake oil charms. Yes, Langer’s critique is accurate and amusing. But “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.”
-- Kirk Davis Swineheart

Barnes and Noble Review - July 7, 2010
"The early pages of The Thieves of Manhattan are so thick with shop talk and references to literary frauds it’s initially hard to imagine the book’s appeal beyond publishing circles. But just as Ian subtly transforms into Roth’s doppelganger, Langer smartly shifts the novel into a witty, appealingly pulpy tale, guns and all, that echoes the book Roth initially wrote. The publishing industry might be narrow turf, but what Langer is really poking holes in is narcissism, and that’s a satirical target everybody can relate to."
-- Mark Athitakis

ELLE - July 1, 2010
"With quirky literary references that make you want to add to your personal library, Adam Langer artfully weaves a clever tale."

Wall Street Journal - June 29, 2010
"Adam Langer’s new novel, “The Thieves of Manhattan,” is like “The Player” for the publishing industry, filled with insider detail of the literary world and a main character that bears a resemblance to disgraced memoirist James Frey."

Library Journal - June 1, 2010
“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.
-- Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, North Andover, MA

Christian Science Monitor - May 29, 2010
"If you want to feel somewhat literary and very hip, try jumping on the speedy ride that is "The Thieves of Manhattan.” Novelist Adam Langer delivers plenty of cool in this satire of the New York literary scene in which aspiring writer Ian Minot is tempted -- after observing the unearned success of others -- into taking part in a literary scam. The question, however, becomes: Who is really scamming whom?"

Vogue - May 24, 2010
"Love and art merge with cheerful cynicism in former Book Magazine editor Adam Langer’s madcap skewering of New York’s personality-mad publishing industry, The Thieves of Manhattan (Spiegel & Grau), in which a down-on-his luck writer/barista embarks on literary fraud with a man in possession of a desirable manuscript and an even more desirable skill: “the ability to tell not only if something actually happened, but also, whether the telling is true. Because sometimes fiction lies, too."

Booklist - May 1, 2010
“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. The truth is, he’s got a wild imagination.”

Publishers Weekly Starred review – April 19, 2010
"Langer (Crossing California) delivers an über-hip caper that pays homage to and skewers the state of publishing and flash-in-the-pan authors... 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."

Kirkus Reviews – April 1, 2010
"A dizzyingly clever novel that explores the thin line between fact and fiction, and between memoir and novel."
 

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