Friday, December 9, 2022

Eight novels featuring schemers & opportunists

Elyse Friedman was born in Toronto, where she still lives. She is a critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, poet, and playwright who has written four novels (The Opportunist; The Answer to Everything; Then Again; Waking Beauty), a book of short fiction (Long Story Short, a Novella & Stories), and a collection of poems (Know Your Monkey).

Friedman's work has been short-listed for the Trillium Book Award, Toronto Book Award, ReLit Award and Tom Hendry Award. Her short story "The Soother" won the gold National Magazine Award for Fiction, and she has twice won the TIFF-CBC Films Screenwriter Award.

At Electric Lit Friedman tagged eight "novels about conniving characters plotting for power, sex, revenge, riches," including:
The Plot by Jean Hanff-Korelitz

A fun one, especially for writers. Jacob Finch Bonner’s first novel garnered the “New and Noteworthy” stamp of approval from the New York Times Book Review. His second was a bit of a bust. His third and fourth couldn’t find publishers. Now, the once promising writer is slogging it out as a teacher in a series of third-rate MFA programs around the country. As he begins his latest gig at Ripley College, Jake expects the usual cast of MFA-program types. What he doesn’t expect is Evan Parker, a smug young man who says writing can’t be taught and that he only joined the program to get an agent out of it. Parker informs Jake that he is well into a novel, one with such a compelling plot it will be an unparalleled success, a “sure thing” that Oprah will pick for her book club and everyone will buy and love. One evening, Evan privately shares the plot of his novel with Jake, and Jake realizes with chagrin that the arrogant jerk is right. The story is so good it can’t be messed up. When the program is done, Jake waits for the news of Parker’s outrageous advance and insta-success. But it doesn’t arrive. And Jake learns why: Evan has died. So, Jake pinches the plot and writes the novel himself, and just as Evan predicted, it’s a huge success, propelling Jake to the top of the bestseller lists and back to literary stardom. There’s just one problem: somebody out there knows Jake stole the story, and he’s going to have to deal with the repercussions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Plot is among E.G. Scott's five best books-within-books, Kimberly Belle's four thrillers with maximum escapism, and Louise Dean's top ten novels about novelists.

--Marshal Zeringue