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  • Gaili Schoen

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz


"In my world, the migration of a story is something we recognize, and we respect. Works of art can overlap, or they can sort of chime in with one another. Right now, with some of the anxieties we have around appropriation, it's become downright combustible, but I've always thought there was a kind of beauty to it, the way narratives get told and retold. It's how stories survive through the ages. You can follow an idea from one author's work to another, and to me that's something I find powerful and exciting." ~ Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Plot


When I first read a synopsis of The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz, it sounded a lot like one of the stories from Woody Allen's 2010 film, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. Korelitz is in my opinion one of our best living authors, so I wondered, "Did she steal a plot about a writer stealing a plot?" In her acknowledgements Korelitz writes about writers:


"...we are the lucky ones...because we love stories and we get to frolic in them. Begged, borrowed, adapted, embroidered...perhaps even stolen: it's all part of a grand conversation."


I later learned from a friend that there is also a film called Death Trap about a desperate playwright who steals a manuscript of a play. So this writer-stealing-a-plot-theme is clearly not new. Doubtless there are many older iterations I'm unaware of. However Korelitz develops plot-appropriation into a psychological thriller that will knock your socks off, and make you have to fight to stop reading when it's way past time for you to go to bed. I'm not always a great lover of mysteries, but Korelitz does an exquisite job of developing her characters, and drawing you into the protagonist's dilemma, making your heart race and your stomach drop right along with his.


Jean Korelitz is best known for her books Admission and You Should Have Known, both which were adapted as films that bear little resemblance to the literary excellence of her books. She a masterful storyteller, enticing you into a world about which you formerly knew only a few scant details. Admission is about the high stakes world of Ivy League college admissions, The Devil and Webster is about a college president's struggle to maintain control in the face of a student uprising, You Should Have Known explores the perilous life of a therapist treating a manipulative and violent patient, A Jury of Her Peers exposes shocking corruption in the American justice system, and The Plot is about the painstaking process of making a life as a writer. Reading a Korelitz novel is like reading a New Yorker article, where the big picture unfolds slowly as the delicate details are revealed. Stephen King is quoted as saying: "The Plot is one of the best novels I’ve ever read about writers and writing. It’s also insanely readable and the suspense quotient is through the roof."


Thank you #NetGalley for an advanced copy of #ThePlotBook for an unbiased review. I can't wait for Korelitz to write her next novel!



Hardcover 336 pages, Audiobook 10 hours, 43 minutes. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 on GoodReads: Check out our Ripe Reads Group!

Available for pre-order on Amazon, but better yet, order it from your local bookstore! My bookstore is Village Well.



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