The horrors of authorship — missed deadlines, self-loathing, isolation — provide especially good material for psychological thrillers. The writer works in solitude, sequestered in a lonely house in a deserted town, incapable of producing a page. If the writer achieves any measure of fame, she attracts the kind of weirdo fans who believe they have somehow inhabited the writer’s brain through her work and have earned a personal connection. Add a twisted, witchy relationship that’s closer to identity theft than friendship, and you have Delphine de Vigan’s latest novel, “Based on a True Story.”
“A Childhood” is the best introduction to his work. It explains so much of where Crews was coming from in his blood-tinted fiction. About the way people looked at him when he had polio, he writes: “I hated it and dreaded it and was humiliated by it. I felt how lonely and savage it was to be a freak.”
This memoir has a foot in another world, a weird, old Depression-era America. Crews writes with knowledge and feeling on a wide series of topics, from farming to factory work (his mother later takes a job at a cigar-making factory) to food and sex.
Next to a photo shot in Tivoli, Cole recalls hearing that someone he knows is losing his vision. “I was stunned,” he says. “Him of all people, so young, so good at seeing.” In this new, luminous book, Cole shows himself to be really one of the best at seeing.
Why and by whose power were you sent?
What do you see that you may wish to steal?