River Heights Book Review

The books you'll want to read.


TruthandOtherLiesTHE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES by Sascha Arango
Atria Books
June 23, 2015

German author Arango’s stunning debut, THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES, is the tale of Henry Hayden. The world knows Henry as a bestselling novelist; in actuality, though, Henry’s just a figurehead—his reclusive wife Martha is the true author. It’s an unorthodox arrangement, to be sure, but it works for them—or, rather, it did, until Henry knocked up his mistress-slash-editor, Betty. Betty wants Henry to leave Martha and lay claim to his child. Henry’s disinclined to do so, and instead opts to eliminate Betty and her baby from the equation. What follows is a glorious tale of madness, envy, secrets, revenge, and regret.

Henry Hayden started life as “a bed wetter, a liar, and an unpredictable psychopath.” He grew up to be a con man, a coward, an ingrate, and a scoundrel. He’s an awful person who does awful things, and yet not only does Arango make Henry a sympathetic character, the reader actually feels compelled to root for his success.

THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES feels like a long-lost classic—one reminiscent of Vladimir Nabokov’s PALE FIRE, Joseph Heller’s CATCH-22, and Italo Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER. Arango’s plot is wickedly clever—full of shifting alliances and unspoken animosities—and it engages the reader both emotionally and intellectually. His prose is artful, incisive, and lightly seasoned with bone-dry wit. His imagery is breathtaking, and the way he writes about Martha and her synesthesia, in particular, is spellbinding. (“When he laughed, Martha saw deep blue spirals leap out of his mouth. No other man in the world laughed pure ultramarine with dancing star-shaped splashes.”)

On the surface, THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES is a psychological thriller; as the title suggests, though, there’s a deeper philosophical question at its core. If a person succeeds in rewriting his or her own reality, who’s to say what’s truth and what’s a lie?


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This entry was posted on September 18, 2015 by in Crime Fiction, Reviews and tagged , , , .
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