Where exactly does a writer's inspiration come from? Of course, some of it springs from actual events, but how much is real and how much is imagination? How does a novelist craft a story so that it's believable but not obvious, balanced and nuanced but still based on true events? And what happens when part of the true story makes its way into the author's reality too?
I was intrigued when I first heard the basic plot of Herman Koch's Dear Mr. M. A writer is forced to face the real story he made into a novel, and to see for himself the lives that were impacted by his bringing extra attention to the situation.
And when that author is also facing his actual and literary mortality, seeing his sales numbers dwindle, the audiences for his readings decrease, his contemporaries retire from the limelight, how is he to react when his past writing choices come to confront him?
Dear Mr. M takes a hard look at the life of a writer, at the benefits and challenges, at the triumphs and the jealousies, at the relationships with fans and colleagues, and at the absurdity of life. The story draws you in and takes you down streets that feel familiar, but just when you think you know where you're going, you find yourself headed in a completely different direction. Told through several points of view, this novel keeps you guessing until the very end. Beautifully readable and intriguing, it's a story you don't want to put down until you know how it all works out. It seems like each of Koch's books just keep getting better, and I can't wait to see where he takes us next!
Galleys for Dear Mr. M were provided by the publisher through BloggingforBooks.com and Net Galley.