The Thieves of Manhattan

The Thieves of Manhattan

by Adam Langer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400068913
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/13/2010
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Born and raised in Chicago, Adam Langer is the author of the novels Ellington Boulevard, Crossing California,and The Washington Story. He lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

The Thieves of Manhattan

A Novel
By Adam Langer

Spiegel & Grau

Copyright © 2010 Adam Langer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781400068913

Chapter One

Girl, you know it’s true . . .
Milli Vanilli


To tell you the truth, I’d have noticed the guy even if Faye hadn’t pointed him out to me. He was slicker than the usual Morningside Coffee crowd—off-white linen suit, black silk shirt buttoned to the throat, Jonathan Franzen–style designer glasses—but what made me stop wiping tables and look just a bit longer was the fact that he was reading a copy of Blade by Blade. That autumn, it seemed as though Blade Markham’s book was everywhere—every subway station corridor had posters with that canary yellow book cover on them; every bookstore window displayed a cardboard cutout of a glowering Blade sporting a nine o’clock shadow; half the suckers who sat next to me on the bus were reading that so-called memoir.

Faye, strands of red hair dangling past her olive green eyes from under her Morningside Coffee visor, was humming “Dust in the Wind” and absentmindedly drawing a sketch of the guy on her notepad. She’d written “Confident Man” underneath it. That’s how the name stuck with me. Meanwhile, bitter, gossipy Joseph, all 315 pounds of him, hunched over the counter, going over lines for an audition, vainly hoping that some casting director wanted a guy his size with white-boy dreadlocks, flip-flops, and a goatee. It had been another slow night, and now the Confident Man was the only customer left in the shop.

“Too bad his taste in books doesn’t match his taste in clothes,” Faye said to me. She smiled and returned to her sketch.

Faye Curry was probably already trying to flirt with me then, but I had a girl, Anya Petrescu. Just about everything Faye said tended to go right past me anyway. Artsy and bookish guys always lurked at the counter and chatted her up because she had a droll wit and liked to be distracted when she was working, but she was way too subtle for me. She had the looks and smarts I tended to notice only after the fact, usually after the woman in question had gotten engaged to someone else or had already left town or had decided she was done with men. Back then, with her torn jeans, baseball caps, vintage concert shirts, and paint-spattered boots, I wasn’t sure if she was into guys anyway. So that night I wasn’t focusing on the fact that she was grinning at me instead of scowling, that she was wearing perfume or maybe using new shampoo. That night, I was more interested in the book the Confident Man was reading.

“Bogus pile of crap,” I muttered. I didn’t realize I’d said it out loud. But Joseph shot me a glance and Faye smiled at me again as if both of them had heard. I looked back down and went on wiping the tables, putting the chairs up, trying to stop thinking about that book and Blade Markham.

Just the night before, during yet another bout of writer’s block and insomnia, I’d been flipping channels when I stumbled on Markham blowing hard on a rebroadcast of Pam Layne’s daytime talk show. There the guy was, hawking his memoir on the biggest book show going, yammering about his heroin addiction and the time he spent with the Crips and the month he went AWOL during the first Gulf War and his conversion to Buddhism and whatever else he’d made up and sold to Merrill Books—a half million bucks for the North American rights alone. I didn’t believe a word of it, but Layne’s studio audience couldn’t get enough, gasping and clapping and laughing as Markham spouted one lie after another. All the while, Pam Layne kept up her credulous questions, using street slang that must have been written on cue cards by whichever one of her assistants had actually read the book:

“Don’t you worry that some of these men you mention in your book, some of these hustlas, might try to put a cap in yo’ ass?” she asked Blade. “That they might try to take yo’ ass out?”

“Naw, that ain’t too likely,” Blade told Pam. “You know, sistuh, the punks I wrote about in my book, they all dead, yo.”

Up there on that TV talk show set, Blade was acting like some old-school hip-hopper, throwing his arms out, crossing them over his chest, flashing made-up gang signs, ending all his sentences with “yo,” even though he was probably just some rich boy from Maplewood, New Jersey, whose real name was Blaine Markowitz—that’s what Anya and I used to joke anyway. Everything about Blade Markham seemed like some kind of lie—his words, his shabby outfit that he’d probably planned out a week in advance, even the cross he wore around his neck.

“It ain’t a cross for Christ; it’s a T for Truth, yo,” he told Pam Layne. That’s when I flipped off the TV, went back to bed in my clothes, and tried in vain to think of a story to write, tried in vain to get some sleep.

Now here in the coffee shop was the Confident Man, one more Blade Markham fan than I could stand. So when I went over to his table and told him we were closing and that he had to scram, I might have sounded harsher than I intended. Faye bust out laughing, and Joseph, who seemed always to be looking for just the right time to can me, flashed a “one more outburst and you’re gone” glare.

The Confident Man dog-eared a page of his book, put on his black cashmere gogol, belted it, went over to the tip jar, and stuffed in a twenty-dollar bill, which just about doubled our tips for the night. He walked out onto Broadway without saying a word.

“Think that guy craves you,” Faye said, raising one eyebrow. Joseph snickered—jokes at my expense always cracked him up. I finished cleaning, collected my share of the tips from Joseph, said sayonara to Faye, and headed down to the KGB Bar to meet Anya. By the time I got there, I was still stewing about Blade by Blade, but I had all but forgotten the Confident Man.


Excerpted from The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer Copyright © 2010 by Adam Langer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Thieves Of Manhattan 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
bonnieconnelly on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Good fast passed story - spoof of pulp fiction
LadyHax on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I do so love a good literary in-joke and this was laden with them. This was such fun to read, particularly as the pace picked up in the final third of the book.
bhenry11 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
There a few time-tested confidence games: The slow con. Ponzi schemes. Snake oil salesmen. Pool hustlers and card-sharps. Revivals. Large-scale forgery. And now we can add another to the list: meta books within books about books. Adam Langer's novel is one part whip-smart, farcical commentary on the publishing industry, one part caper-ish page turner, and altogether too dumb a story to spend too much time thinking about. If anyone's getting conned here, it's the reader.The Thieves of Manhattan has a lot going for it: well developed characters, a sad-sack protagonist in search of opportunity, and a well-paced narrative flow; I was on page 100 before I knew it. But then the plot gets way too complicated way too quickly, leaving the reader not just confused, but uninterested. This is not a long book at 254 pages, but I was ready for it to wrap up about 70 pages earlier.I feel that nine times out of ten, it's a mistake for an author to go the self-reflexive meta route in storytelling, that instead of relying on the reader to have an aha! moment, readers end up basking in the smug see-what-I-just-did-there glow of the author after being misdirected into investing thought and energy in the plot and structure of the book.Not recommended.
suballa on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Ian Minot is a struggling writer working at the Morningside Coffee diner. Ian works alongside Joseph, a struggling actor, and Faye, an aspiring artist. Of the three, Ian has been the least successful in his career. His Romanian girlfriend Anya, however, is very close to getting her collection of short stories published while Ian continues to get rejection letters. One of the most memorable of these comes from the literary agent Geoff Olden who simply wrote ¿good luck placing this and all future submissions elsewhere¿. When Faye draws Ian¿s attention to a customer they have nicknamed The Confident Man, Ian is appalled to see that he is reading a copy of the recently published memoir ¿Blade by Blade¿. In Ian¿s opinion, the book is a ¿bogus piece of crap¿. As it turns out, The Confident Man feels the same way about it. The Confident Man is Jed Roth, a former editor at a very respectable publishing house. Jed left his position at Merrill Books when his decision not to publish ¿Blade by Blade¿ was overruled by the owner of Merrill Books. Jed has devised a plan to bring down Merrill Books and agent Geoff Olden and recruits Ian to play a crucial role in his scheme. Ian agrees but soon finds himself in over his head and unsure who to trust. This is a fun story, full of humor and intrigue, which takes a few shots at the publishing industry along the way. The last few pages contain a glossary of selected terms used throughout the book, all based on literary figures.
MikeD on LibraryThing 7 months ago
For not being a type of book I would normally read, this was a very pleasant surprise! Well written novel about a down and out New York writer passing time cleaning tables in a small coffeeshop. He meets another writer recently jobless after walking out on a great job with a NY Publisher. The two work together to pull the ultimate con job on the publishing industry. It has it all, Conspiracy, Romance, Humor, Revenge, and a nice jab to the publishing industry. Great book and thankfully it includes a glossary of literary slang, so the inexperienced reader can easily understand what the author's talking about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe New York readers in the publishing industry would like it, but not me.
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