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Ann Sullivan Advocates for Jean Hanff Korelitz

Ann Sullivan Advocates for Jean Hanff Korelitz Picture

What if, in writing this short review of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s fascinating book The Plot, I copied some lines from another review. Well, what if I just borrowed an unusual idea or two. What crosses the line between inspiration and theft?

The Plot is a mystery full of questions. Beyond being an unputdownable story, with a killer plot, the reader is left with larger thoughts of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil. The main character, Jacob Finch Bonner, an author with a successful first novel, has struggled for years to write another. He is now reduced to teaching in a third rate creative writing program. An obnoxious student appears in Jake’s office with what he claims is the plot that will make him rich and famous beyond imagination. Jake brushes this conceit away. But, after reading the draft outline, he is stunned to realize this arrogant young man is undoubtedly right.

A year or so after the program ends, Jake hears the shocking news that Evan Parker has died, he believes he may be left with the remaining copy of his student’s work. Hmmm, what to do?

Jake jumps on the opportunity and writes the book. It is, indeed, a whopping success. However, soon Jake begins to receive emails from an unknown “Talented Tom” indicating he is well aware of what Jake has done. With a nod to Patricia Highsmith, the creative writing program where Jake and, apparently “Talented Tom,” intersected took place at a Vermont school named Ripley. And so begins this humdinger of a story.

I’ve read much of Ms. Korelitz’s entertaining and thought provoking work, including Admission and You Should Have Known, adapted by HBO into the mini-series "The Undoing." I can’t wait to read her newly published book, The Latecomer!