The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer
Years ago I read Crossing California, also by Adam Langer. It wasn’t a bad book, and I did enjoy the writing for the way Langer makes conversations and descriptions flow so easily on the pages. But in summing up the book, I felt at the end it was too dispassionate. My view was that Langer needed to express more in his characters so they would come across less wooden. The Salinger Contract has none of the qualities that I found distracting in CC. TSC took me by the hand from the very beginning and never let go until the very end. It was absorbing with its plot details, it had some twists and turns I never saw coming until Langer was ready for me to see what he was revealing, and, best of all, I wasn’t very far into the book before I realized I could NOT put it down. That’s my main criterion in judging the books I read. I always finish books I start, BUT is that rule an endurance test, or is it almost a chase to the end because I gotta know what this is all about? I was so engrossed in The Salinger Contract I finished it in one day. What’s more, I need to read it again. And probably again.
The story of The Salinger Contract is told by a narrator, but the basic story is not about him; at least, not at first. It begins with the narrator running into a man he remembers from the past, but he doesn’t remember their relationship as one that was as close and friendly as the other man, Conner Joyce, seems to think it was. However, after spending time with Conner, Langer, the narrator, begins to accept that he and Conner were the kind of buddies Conner implies they were. Langer believes the story Conner relates to him, and he comes to believe, as Conner keeps reassuring him, that he and he alone can help Conner with a problem that has grown way out of hand. All of this centers around recluse authors who wished to disappear from the face of the earth rather than deal with the attention and notoriety that goes with becoming famous; authors like Thomas Pynchon, Harper Lee, and J D Salinger. Conner Joyce has something in common with these authors, and it has caused great disruption in his life.this is why he turns to his good friend and buddy, Adam Langer.
There were some special features about TSC that, for me, were good touches. For instance, I loved that Langer named his daughters Ramona and Beatrice. I liked his use of names of well known authors. This gave the story more authenticity than if all the authors names were made up. I particularly enjoyed the way Langer layered his story. The reader is so flawlessly led down whatever trail Langer is following until he begins to sort things out more logically and realizes this may not be all as it appears to be. Add to that a pretty powerful ending, and The Salinger Contract is a book to be enjoyed more than once.
Langer has made me a fan with this book, and I will be looking for other books he’s written, only now when I read him, my perspective will be different. I have rated The Salinger Contract 5 Stars. I cannot wait to see what Langer does next.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley.com in exchange for a review.