ABOUT THE BOOK:
The new novel from the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart's Invisible Furies , a seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame
Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn't have is talent - but he's not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don't need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful - but desperately lonely - older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice's first novel.
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall...
LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne is a 2018 Hogarth Press publication.
“And you’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, haven’t you?” He shook his head. “That it’s like setting a ladder to the sky. A pointless waste of energy.”
Maurice Swift may be one of the most calculating literary characters in recent memory. His goal is to be a great writer, to win the big literary prize. However, he has no imagination of his own. He can’t outline a plot, or create characters, so he uses his good looks and charisma to draw stories from other people.
His first success comes from suckering the newly famous author, Erich Ackermann, a man who is totally smitten with Maurice, into telling him stories about his life prior to becoming a well -known and respected writer. This pays off for Maurice quite well, propelling him into the spotlight. From this point on Maurice latches on to one author after another sucking everything out them and leaving broken hearts and tragedy in his wake.
He does this with malice aforethought, without conscience, without regret. He is deliciously diabolical, with a deviousness one can’t help but compare to Mr. Ripley.
This is my first novel by the famous Mr. Boyne. Yes, you read that right. I have not been tempted by his YA novel about a boy in striped PJ’s, but, I did want to catch “The Heart’s Invisible Furies’, but will have to pick it sometime in the future. My first impression of this author is one of astonishment! This book is incredible!!
I love dark humor, and deep character studies, and anything that pokes a satirical stick at the publishing industry always tickles me. I’m not sure why climbing into the mind of a sociopath is so mesmerizing, but I was literally spellbound. I couldn’t turn away, couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was utterly chilling!!
Writers are all fascists. We like to control the discourse and crush anyone who dares to disagree with us.
The prose is exquisite, especially considering the book is centered around such a despicable character. The scary thing is that Boyne nails so many parts of this character and those who fall prey to his machinations, as well as the environment that helped Maurice pull off his deceptions. It was a little eerie, to be honest, but oh, so fun!!
I can’t say much more without delving into the plot, but I can tell you this- This is my kind of book! I’m so glad I managed to tuck this one in at the eleventh-hour, so I can add it as one of my favorite books of 2018!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of seven novels for adults and three for children. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas won two Irish Book Awards, was shortlisted for the British Book Award, reached no.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was made into an award-winning Miramax feature film. His novels are published in over 45 languages. He lives in Dublin.