A Ladder to the Sky. Finished 5-30-19, 4.75/5, fiction, 362 pages, pub. 2018
Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall… from Goodreads
Why am I only just now reading John Boyne? I remember watching the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and being heartbroken, but I didn’t read the book. Now I want to read everything he’s written. This is one of those novels with a main character so horribly delicious that it makes you want to look away. It may even force you to shut the book and put it down for awhile, but you keep glancing at it and eventually you pick it back up and steel yourself for some ugly happenings. Okay, maybe that was just me. The storytelling for this book was just so good. Love or hate the main character of Maurice, you have to revel in the way his story unfolds, first through the voices of those he had wronged and then through his.
You can read the above description for a taste of how the book begins, but know that the story after the ones mentioned is the most cruel and awful of the lot of them. Oh, and did I mention that he managed to spawn? The stories are complex, captivating, ruthless, and visit some of the darkest corners of the more ambitious among us.
I know this book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it twisty and tragically captivating. Does Maurice get his due? You’ll have to read it to find out.