Plot coincidences?

Everybody’s talking about The Storyteller, described by Sara Nelson earlier this month as “an engaging, funny novel about an aspiring author named Steven (with a V, so as not to be confused with that guy who wrote The Shining) King, who inherits a friend’s manuscripts, retypes them and publishes them under yet another pseudonym — to huge professional success and even greater guilt.” Complicating matters, The Storyteller itself is published under a pseudonym — “the nom de plume for a long-time publishing executive” who turns out to be Howard Kaminsky (with help from his wife, Susan).

A friend and I keep marveling at the striking resemblance, in summary at least, between this novel’s plot and that of John Colapinto’s wonderful About the Author, a literary thriller. Laura Miller made the same point in the Times over the weekend, although she evidently did not like the Colapinto novel:

This premise closely resembles that of John Colapinto’s 2001 novel, “About the Author,” shedding another, less flattering light on the Kaminskys’ pseudonym stratagem. “About the Author” is a bit more artful than the dense pate of cliches that is “The Storyteller,” but not much. In each book the protagonist, for all his self-destructive misbehavior, is bland and dull, the writing pedestrian and the plot predictable from about Page 20. Both feature the same tedious stock figures: slick, venal agents; demanding publishers; an insipid love interest who will be lost if the hero’s dirty secret gets out.


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