J. D. Salinger

Review – The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer


I was pleasantly surprised with The Salinger Contract.  This is a theme mystery, focusing on literature, and I’m always skeptical of theme mysteries (cat mystery novels, and now yoga mystery novels?  really?).  However, this book worked.  As I love books and I’m interested in writing, I appreciated the look into the life of the less glamorous authors out there.  The lives and livelihoods of average authors are made charming, if bleak, here. The Salinger Contract is a glimpse into the world of the starving artist, with a literary tilt.

The narrator is a one-time author and journalist, Adam Langer (yes, same as the author), who was forced to adapt to the life of a stay-at-home dad after the literary mag he writes for closes down.  The book is broken up into four parts:  1) Upon Signing, 2) Upon Submission, 3) Upon Acceptance, and 4) Upon Publication.  It is a tricky mystery to explain without giving too much away.  Langer seeks out a favorite author from his former life as a literary journalist, and an odd plot unfolds involving rich old men in limousines, secret and unknown classical mystery novels, guns, accents, theft, and sassy YA writers who lack manners but have huge followings.  What more could you ask for?

This is a very unique book – its pacing is uneven by design, as it goes from a very fast-paced recounting of events to a slower-paced status quo.  In many books that use this style of storytelling within a book, it feels like the present is just unnecessary filler taking up time until you get to the important flashbacks which seem to be the true meat of the story.  In The Salinger Contract, when action isn’t being recounted, we are getting to know Adam Langer.  With no opportunity and no glamour in his life, Adam Langer (narrator) comes across as charming rather than pathetic.  He seems to be an everyman just trying to make it through our tough financial times.

The writing here is clear and simple, and this book is a fast, light read – great for anyone who is craving a creative and fun mystery, or anyone who is big into reading and writing.  Although I don’t think I’d classify this as a cozy, it has a cozy feel – not a lot of grit or gore.

My only complaint is that quite a jump is taken at the end that left me raising an eyebrow.  You’ll know it when you get there, and you’ll also be like, “say whaaat?”

From “The Making Of” the novel on OpenRoadMedia.com, Langer explains:  “It came about through wanting to satirize the idea, so often repeated in interviews, that a book can change your life. It’s a cliché and so rarely true and so I wanted to write a book where that idea is literally true—a writer’s life depends on writing this book. I’ve also been fascinated by this idea of literary recluses—of people like B. Traven and J. D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon who disappear and how these stories develop around them. And I wanted to explore some very compelling reasons as to what would explain an author’s disappearance.”

The Salinger Contract on Amazon.com (release date September 17th)