Graduate student Nathaniel Mason meets an eccentric character named Jerome Coolberg who takes an interest in Nathaniel and soon begins mysteriously appropriating items from Nathaniel’s apartment and stories from his past. This is pretty much all I understood from this book, and even that I’m not entirely sure of. Nathaniel may be an unreliable narrator, or maybe he is not the narrator at all. This is a book that I should have read in a quiet room by myself, but in fact I mostly read it in a staff kitchen full of noisy (and sometimes angry and shouting) librarians.
Parts of it reminded me of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, as well as Daniel Handler’s The Basic Eight – both of which are among my favorite books, which this one is not. Jerome’s apparent obsession with Nathaniel reminded me of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, but in theme only. I may well read something else by Charles Baxter, because he seems to have a flair for putting words together in interesting ways. I liked his use of language, but I had no idea what he was saying. (I do love the cover art, though.)
Have you read this book? If so, I’d love to know what you thought about it.
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