Without thinking, you walk toward the bar, toward her and the sound, and yes, the scratching grows louder. It's centered on her, remains with her when the bartender steps away, hangs in the air around her as she silently contemplates her martini glass. There's no question about it. That's the scratching of the author's pencil. She's being written. (from Being Written, pages 1-2)
I'd been dying to read Being Written by William Conescu since reading a review by Heather from Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books, and I don't know why I let the book linger on my shelf for so long after she let me borrow it. I'm glad I picked it up last month because it's a fast, engaging read.
Being Written is a clever novel about Daniel Fisher, a young professional living in Boston who hears the scratching of a pencil while sitting in a bar and realizes that an author is writing someone's story. He knows it's not about him, he's only a minor player, but he really wants a piece of the limelight. He realizes that a young woman at the bar is generating the scratching noise, that her story is the one being written. His desire to be part of the book is so strong that he worms his way into the young woman's life. First, he ends up in Delia's bed, then he becomes a regular fixture at her and her friends' hangouts. Daniel is just a regular Joe (well, aside from the fact that he is the only one hearing the author's pencil), and he decides he needs to be more interesting so the author will notice him. He lies and says he's a writer working on a novel, and he goes out of his way to make things happen.
Delia is a talented singer who studied music in college. She and her musician boyfriend, Graham, left school before realizing their dreams. Now Delia works a dead-end job for a nonprofit foundation and sings in her spare time at a rest home. She is unhappy not only with her career, but also with her relationship with Graham -- whose inability to hold down a real job has prompted him to take up another line of work that leaves Delia feeling both disgusted and betrayed. Conescu also tells the story through the eyes of Monty, Delia's childhood friend and a colleague of Daniel's, and Jon, their gay bartender friend.
Consescu devised a brilliant structure for Being Written. All of the main characters have chapters to themselves, and these are written in the third person (as though they are part of the novel being written) -- except for Daniel's. Daniel's story is told in the second person and in the present tense, putting readers in the here and now and making it possible that the author is responsible for his actions. As Daniel's willingness to do whatever it takes to play a prominent role in the story grows, the tension builds, putting readers on the edge of their seats. I wasn't expecting the story to take the turn it did, with some thriller aspects thrown in, but it all made sense and wasn't at all out of character.
Being Written is among the most unique books I've ever read, and Consecu does a wonderful job pacing the story. Once I started reading it, it was hard to put down. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for something different, something both humorous and sad, or even just a quick, suspenseful read.
Disclosure: I borrowed Being Written from a friend.