Five years after his dismissal for fabricating stories, former New Republic hotshot reporter Stephen Glass released The Fabulist, a novel telling the story of a hotshot reporter named Stephen Glass who is fired after fabricating stories. And while the original incident provoked outrage, especially in Washington, The Fabulist is a mostly an empty exercise, devoid of strong characters, compelling action, or, finally, a reason to exist. Glass told lies, got caught, got fired, and then wrote a book about it. Why should we care? While interesting possibilities surely existed in tracing the arc of a career of fakery, Glass chooses instead to begin his story just as "Stephen" is being exposed for the first time. He fills the rest of the book by taking us through the character's dull and lengthy process of recovery as he seeks sanctuary with his parents, changes girlfriends, finds a new job and a new apartment, and avoids the spotlight of his scandal.
The Fabulist is populated with characters seemingly pulled from the scrap heap of numerous failed sitcoms: the Egotistical Boss, the Girlfriend Who Doesn't Understand, the Pushy Older Jewish Lady with a Single Granddaughter, and the Comically Mysterious Co-workers. Many of the characters are reportedly based on real people and are portrayed, disappointingly, as jerks and fools more deserving of derision than apology. Perhaps the most distressing part of The Fabulist is that there's no heart and no center. The central character, the only hero we are offered, never seems to understand who he is. He lies, those lies get him in trouble, he searches for an explanation or redemption for his actions, but neither he nor we ever understand what is to be gained from it all. Could the enterprise have been clearer as a nonfiction tell-all testimonial? Maybe. Would it be believed coming from the pen of Stephen Glass? Maybe not. But regardless of what one thinks of the ethics of the situation, it's disappointing that a writer of Glass's skill and obvious imagination couldn't come up with a more interesting novel. After all, he's written so much fiction in the past. --John Moe
About the Author
Formerly a journalist, Stephen Glass is currently at work on his second novel.