A Writer Recognizes Herself in Another Writer’s Story

A Writer Recognizes Herself in Another Writer’s Story

Keziah Weir writes, “The pages of the short story were crisp like new bills and my heart sped up when I turned them.”Credit…Public/Official THE MYTHMAKERS, by Keziah Weir What navel-gazers we writers of fiction are! It's an attribute few of us would deny, but while it most often evokes autobiography, even those of us who tend not to mine our “lived experience” are still drawn back ceaselessly into the great and fascinating murk that is … writing fiction. It should surprise no one that there is an ever-expanding genre of these self-reflective works, or that they primarily explore the constantly mutating notion of appropriation: outright plagiarism, the theft of ideas, the taking of our loved ones' (or our unloved ones') personal experiences (without consultation, let alone permission), the adaptation of classic texts whose authors are unreachable for comment by virtue of the fact that they are dead. Some of us — myself included (see: “ The Plot ”) — have an insatiable appetite for stories that grapple with these issues. I am happy to report that Keziah Weir's assured first , “The Mythmakers,” is a laudable addition to a reading list that already includes such standouts as Meg Wolitzer's “ The Wife ,” Karen Dukess's “ The Last Book Party ,” Andrew Lipstein's “ Last Resort ” and R.F. Kuang's new novel, “ Yellowface .” In “The Mythmakers,” most of the relevant offenses surround a recently deceased novelist named Martin Keller as a young journalist sets out to investigate a simple act of appropriation and finds something far more complex and — for any writer — infinitely more shameful. Salale (Sal) Cannon is sharing an apartment with her college boyfriend in Brooklyn, living the dream by writing “Hamlet-lite monologues” for an online magazine (while continuing to make lunch reservations for the editor she was first hired to assist). Prone to cruelty, but blissfully ignorant of that cruelty because she is also prone to alcoholic blackouts, Sal longs to do important work but falls prey to a devious profile subject whose many lies she fails to detect. (“It […]

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