--JOYCE CAROL OATES
What becomes of a character cut from a writer's working manuscript?
On the eve of Pearl Harbor, Sam Sumida, a Japanese-American academic, has been thrust into the role of amateur P.I., investigating his wife's murder, which has been largely ignored by the LAPD. Grief stricken by her loss, disoriented by his ill-prepared change of occupation, the worst is yet to come, Sam discovers that, inexplicably, he has become not only unrecognizable to his former acquaintances but that all signs of his existence (including even the murder he's investigating) have been erased. Unaware that he is a discarded, fictional creation, he resumes his investigation in a world now characterized not only by his own sense of isolation but by wartime fear.
Meantime, Sam's story is interspersed with chapters from a pulp spy novel that features an L.A.-based Korean P.I. with jingoistic and anti-Japanese, post December 7th attitudes - the revised, politically and commercially viable character for whom Sumida has been excised.
Behind it all is the ambitious, 20-year-old Nisei author who has made the changes, despite the relocation of himself and his family to a Japanese internment camp. And, looming above, is his book editor in New York, who serves as both muse and manipulator to the young author--the woman with the blue pencil, a new kind of femme fatale.
- ISBN-13: 9781633880887
- ISBN-10: 1633880885
- Publisher: Seventh Street Books
- Publish Date: November 2015
- Page Count: 185
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.35 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-09-28
- Reviewer: Staff
McAlpine (Hammett Unwritten as Owen Fitzstephen) once again ventures successfully into metafiction, jumping back and forth between two separate manuscripts while delivering a masterly critique of the mystery novel. Author Takumi Sato must revise the manuscript of his novel about a Japanese-American academic, Sam Sushida, who turns detective after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. One version of Satos novel is a jingoistic tale of American heroism in which all Japanese characters are villains; the other focuses on Sam Sushida, a character whos no longer allowed to exist, either in the novel or in the United States. Between chapters, readers see the interjections of Maxime Wakefield, Satos editor, who urges him to excise any critiques of America, and any mentions of homosexuality and racism, even as Sato himself, as a second-generation Japanese immigrant, is forced to move to an internment camp. McAlpines greatest accomplishment is that the book works both as a conventional mystery story and as a deconstruction of the genres ideology: whichever strand readers latch on to, the parallel stories pack a brutal punch. Agent: Lukas Ortiz, Philip Spitzer Literary Agency. (Nov.)