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About the Author Hardcover – July 31, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060194170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060194178
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,462,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

About the Author's Cal Cunningham calls himself a writer, but he's too busy--or too scared--to sit down and actually write anything. He spends his days working as a bookstore stock boy and his nights chasing tail in the bars of Manhattan. Sunday mornings, he spins tales about his conquests to his roommate, a reclusive, hard-working law student named Stewart Church. When Stewart is killed in auto accident, Cal finds in Stewart's desk a novel--a brilliant novel--based on Cal's own exploits. Cal is appalled, and then inspired. He sends the novel off to New York's leading literary agent, claiming it as his own. The book is a smash hit, and as he claims the rewards of literary lionization, Cal convinces himself that he is, really, at bottom, responsible for the writing of the book, if not exactly its author. Things get a bit more complicated when he hooks up with Stewart's ex-girlfriend Janet, eventually marrying her.

The novel convincingly portrays Cal's determined delusion that everything has worked out just as it was meant to be. As he kisses Janet, he thinks how "Stewart's ghost had turned out to be a benevolent specter after all, his spirit helping to shape my destiny, to guide both Janet and me to this moment." Which is all well and good, till Cal discovers that someone else is in possession of a copy of the original manuscript. Author John Colapinto weaves together a farcical tale of literary ambition and a cat-and-mouse thriller as Cal and his blackmailer pursue each other to the very death. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

Cal Cunningham, the engaging, "panther-thin" protagonist of Colapinto's intrepid first foray into fiction (after his nonfictional debut As Nature Made Him) is an author with writer's block, struggling to acquire the "monastic absorption" needed to pen his autobiography and be freed from a meager existence as a bookstore stock boy. His dreams of success are further dashed when reclusive law student-roommate Stewart presents a brilliant short story he's written, and after some digging on the sly, Cal discovers a scandalous, novel-length manuscript recounting the sordid details of his own womanizing life. When Stewart is killed in a biking accident, a resentful, envious Cal adopts the manuscript, Almost Like Suicide, as his own and courts Stewart's old girlfriend Janet, too. Aided by flawlessly rendered literary agent Blackie Yeager, who sells the novel for millions, Cal lands a monetary and media windfall. Eventually moving to New Halcyon, Vt., to marry Janet, his perfect if duplicitous life is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger claiming to have Stewart's laptop computer containing the original manuscript; Cal's messy, disastrous comeuppance, involving blackmail and murder, takes over the second half of the novel. Publishing-savvy readers (and those who enjoyed Donald Westlake's The Hook) will find Colapinto's depiction of Cal's book tour and the many "particularly excruciating" television interviews he must undergo hilariously apropos. Cal's surplus of manic rationalizations overwhelm some taut, well-realized suspenseful moments, and Colapinto's feel-good though immensely implausible ending will sweetly satisfy, but not without leaving a bitter aftertaste of injustice. Still, this is a fine first effort from an emerging voice in fiction.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Great story idea well developed with good characters.
Susan Kibler
The voices of the characters were very strong, and I felt that I knew the characters quite well, and could predict their actions by the end of the story.
This book was impossible to put down...I read it into the wee hours of the morning.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Ingalls on August 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
With "About The Author," John Colapinto has taken the traditional tired old thriller and turned it on its head. In the current climate of cookie-cutter, mass-market, assembly-line novels, this one's a true original. It's been a while since I've been truly excited about the arrival of a new author.
In the book, Cal Cunningham, a struggling, impoverished wanna-be author in New York City is startled and seething with jealousy over the fact that his law student roommate has written a flawless novel of his own. When the roommate dies suddenly in a traffic accident, Cal decides to have the novel published as his own work. Fame and fortune ensue, but of course, we all know that it's going to come back to haunt him or else this wouldn't be much of a story. How the book progresses from this point I won't divulge (unlike some reviewers who insist on putting spoilers in every book and film review they post)-- it's a wild, fun, nail-biting ride, and I wouldn't dream of depriving a single reader of the pleasure.
Colapinto's characters are excellently written, particularly the character of Cal, who has a biting sense of humor and is a refreshing change of pace -- most thillers' narrators are supermen who are daring and unflinching in the face of danger...not Cal, who's a scheming coward but you can't help but love him anyway. The character who ends up threatening to expose him (I won't give that one away, either) is evil, conniving, greedy and impossible to ignore...you keep wondering what kind of fresh hell Cal will be put through next.
Funny, exciting, thrilling, and with the perfect ending, "About the Author" is the best book I've read in a long time. I can't wait to read more from John Colapinto.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dan Witte on September 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
The cover blurbs and book reviews position Colapinto's first novel as a suspense thriller, but I hate to see it tossed into such an overcrowded, underachieving genre. Likewise, I think the critical comparisons to Hitchcock are only valid insofar as Colapinto's careful attention to character development make the protagonist's increasingly outrageous behavior believable. My primary impression of this book, in fact, is that it is a character study, more akin to books like "A Confederacy of Dunces," "Illywhacker," and "Tomcat In Love" than it would be to an Elmore Leonard or James Patterson "suspense thriller." And what a character Cal Cunningham is! At turns pathetic, sympathetic, despicable and delusional, I thoroughly enjoyed (and related to) his callous rationalization process as he basically steals another writer's work and muse -- and not just any other writer, but his dead roommate! When a woman from his past shows up with proof that he is not the author of the book that has propelled him to literary fame, and subsequently threatens to ruin him, his paranoia goes supernova, and in my opinion that is when this book really hits full stride. Although I thought that things concluded a little too tidily, the story is generally so cynical and the character so depraved that to me it was a comparatively small blemish on an otherwise brilliant book. I'm recommending it to everyone.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By TheReader23 on October 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I heard about this book, I assumed it was another non-fiction book by Colapinto. The title alone is suggestive of a non-fiction work. Well, it certainly isn't in that genre. It's a psychological thriller of the very best kind...not a dark thriller but more of a light one. It's like a roller coaster ride -- a trip to hell and back. Colapinto has managed to take all of my favorite book elements and combine them in one story. I couldn't put it down trying to figure out just what would happen next.
The premise is great. Cal Cunningham is a struggling writer who has hopes of one day penning a great novel. It's no surprise that he hasn't been successful since, for the past two years, he hasn't written a thing...not one page. He thinks about it all the time, and imagines himself as a best-selling author, but hasn't been motivated yet to put that pen to page.
He spends his days at his job stacking books in a local bookstore. At nights, he spends his time carousing with loose women in tawdry bars. He shares a cramped NYC apartment with his roommate Stewart Church, a law school student. Stewart is such a bore and spends most of his time typing away on his laptop in the seclusion of his bedroom. When he comes up for air on the weekends, Cal regales him with stories of his ventures into the wild nightlife of New York. Stewart hangs on every word...and that's all I'm going to tell you. What happens next is unbelievable. One little event, one little decision made, one little lapse in judgment will put Cal on the ride of his life. Unfortunately, he might not be able to jump off when he wants to.
This is the story of how Cal Cunningham becomes a best-selling author.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "rebecca_n" on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Despite having written nothing for several years, Cal Cunningham dreams of writing a novel that will help him hit the big time. But, on the day that he finally finds his inspiration, he discovers that not only does his roommate have literary ambitions of his own, he's already written a novel, a novel that is destined to top the bestseller lists. When a traffic accident proves fatal for his roommate, Cal decides to pass the novel off as his own. After all, it's practically his story anyway. What follows is a thrilling story packed with suspense.
This novel is the story of what happens to Cal Cunningham told in his own words. It's a funny, psychological thriller that was difficult to put down and I would recommend it to anyone whether a fan of the genre or just someone with a few aspirations of your own
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More About the Author

John Colapinto was born and raised in Toronto, and has a Master's in English literature from the University of Toronto. After freelancing for Canadian magazines for four years, he moved to New York in 1989 and wrote for many magazines, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times magazine and New York. In 1995 he became a contributing editor at Rolling Stone where he won a National Magazine Award for a story about a medical scandal and expanded the story into a book, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, which became a New York Times bestseller. In 2001, he published a novel, About the Author. Since 2006 he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker where he has written about subjects as diverse as medicinal leeches, shoplifting prevention, Karl Lagerfeld and Michelin food inspectors.

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