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The Fabulist Hardcover – May 13, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743227123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743227124
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

You aren't sorry, just sorry you were caught.
Ian Restil
I'm only giving this book 1 star not because I want to, but because that is the only option (outside of a 2 to 5 star review) that I'm offered.
Sapphire3508
The main character, who cunningly has the same name as the author, never really develops as a character.
Matthew Asnip

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

181 of 188 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Does anyone else have a sneaking suspicion that all of the 5-star reviews for this book were penned by Mr. Glass himself? It's interesting to note that in almost all cases, this book recieved either 1-star or 5-stars (with the vast majority being 1-star reviews). If you dig into the reviewers who gave it 5-stars, 9 times out of 10 this is the only book they have ever reviewed. It's also curious that the first four reviews were all written on the same day -- May 12, 2003 -- and all gave the book 5-stars.

It seems that Mr. Glass still hasn't kicked that nasty habit of fabricating stories, or in this case, reviews.
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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Natasha on July 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This fictionalized memoir fits the trend of autobiography as a replacement for therapy. But rather than giving a compelling story about sin, or powerful story of redemption, it contains the whining of someone who just can't seem to understand why everyone (sob) hates him. <Other people are bad too> seems to be the strongest defense Glass can muster as he whines about mistreatment throughout the book. There is a superficial sorrow as he realizes how he destroyed others' careers through his lies and how he betrayed the trust of everyone around him, but most of the book is mired in his reflections about his lack of self love. He only seems to muster real emotion when contemplating the suffering he goes through when people overreacted to his lies. What I found most interesting about this book is its complete lack of understanding of other character's concerns and problems--Glass's narcissist's mind cannot seem to see others beyond the anecdotal, colorful vignettes he peppered his articles and stories with. Thus the stereotypical coworkers, parents, brothers, and women. Glass cannot extend his imagination and interest enough to write about anyone except himself, and his refusal to probe his own psyche leaves his only important character (himself) blank and dull.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I took this book home from the library for the same reasons most people read it -- to find out more about the mind of a talented deceiver. I was deceived. As a novel, it's garbage. No good. It reminds me of a script from an afterschool special about the importance of telling the truth. And as someone else noted, the romantic relationships that the Hero gets into are ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. Ten-year-old-kid silly.
The one redeeming point? Glass figures out why he lied. He lied because --- drumroll, please --- he wants people to like him. Nothing more complex than that. He lied because he wanted to please people. Not because he was lazy, or manipulative, or psychotic, or because he wanted to undercut Journalism. He lied because he wanted to make up stories that told people exactly what they wanted to hear.
Well, that's a reasonably interesting insight, which can be applied as a cautionary tale to most people's lives. Who among us hasn't been tempted to lie just to make someone think better of us, or to make someone feel better about a bad situation? The novel tells us: THIS is what that impulse can lead to.
Don't bother reading it, though -- read some nonfiction pieces on Glass if you are interested in his real story. Because this book is a bunch of crap.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By "zeusmim" on January 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I finally saw "Shattered Glass" this weekend, and I would agree with a previous reviewer who dubbed it the best movie about journalism since "All The President's Men." I was fascinated by the story of Stephen Glass, and I vowed to find and read his book; find and read the original article upon which the movie was based; find and read anything I could about Michael Kelly (whose tragic death last year astounded me); and find and read all of Glass' original articles.
I started with Glass' book, which I found easily in a bookstore in New York City. I'm not sure what I expected to find within it -- his take on the incident, I suppose, or some insight as to why he lied . . . a flushed-out version of the story, written with color and flair, given his articles' reputations.
I sat down on a plastic stool in the bookstore and all but threw the book on the floor after 15 pages. Pathetically boring. I believe I lost it when Allison, his girlfriend, told him to "f*** off." I thought to myself, "How trite, how ridiculously trite . . ." I flipped to the back of the book and realized that it was, entirely, just a retelling of his demise, devoid of personal analysis or color of any kind. I'd rather just go see the movie again.
Mr. Glass missed an opportunity. Criminals and liars are fascinating, especially when expounding upon their own exploits. Rather than just reiterating the story, he should have a) written it in a more interesting fashion; and b) added some juicy introspection!
I'm moving on to locate the article that is the movie's basis. Hopefully it will be more satisfying.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Glass's novel, The Fabulist, is awful. But to begin with a positive, the opening account of how a fictional Stephen Glass is caught fabricating stories at the Washington Weekly is compelling, suspenseful and comical. There is also a chuckle here and there afterward.
But there is much, much more wrong with this novel.
First, its action rings horribly false. Many of set-piece situations (with women's underwear, in a plane to Chicago, with a woman dressed in purple, at a strip club, during a brief affair, at an animal hospital, among others) are so contrived and unrealistic that it is impossible to be unaware for more than a minute at a stretch during the entire 339 pages that you are reading a novel. Whether any or all of these incidents actually or even partially occurred is of course irrelevant. As written, they are unbelievable even as fiction. A novel is not 'true,' of course, but a good one casts a spell which causes the reader to believe he is experiencing reality, albeit an alternative one. Mario Vargas Llosa has written beautifully and instructionally on this in Letters to a Young Novelist and A Writer's Reality. I would suggest that Glass read them, but with a reported six-figure advance for this monstrosity, why would he?
Another way a novel becomes 'real' is with characterizations and descriptions. Glass has little time for this. The characters, including the protagonist, are pita-flat. I couldn't describe the Glass in this book; he simply never emerges from the page into the imagination. Although Sylvia, a love interest, is almost recognizable as a human being (there is a nice descriptive detail about her earlobes), most of the other characters are little more than ciphers.
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