‘Shriver’ by Chris Belden [Book Review]

shriver chris belden simon and schuster
Image: Simon & Schuster

Shriver gets invited to speak at a writers’ conference. The problem, however, is he’s not a writer at all. At first, he thinks that a friend’s just pulling a prank on him, so he accepts the invitation. 

But oh, things suddenly get so real that the organizer of the event sends him a plane ticket and gives him more details about the event.

Crazy, right?

Well, things get even crazier when Shriver just goes with the flow. Instead of talking to the organizer about the error, he decides to attend the event, anyway.

And so he goes to the venue pretending to be the man he isn’t. He talks to people about writing, something that he knows close to nothing about. Worse, he signs people’s copies of a book he never wrote. He even falls in love with the event’s organizer, which is fucked up, because that person thinks he’s a famous writer.

At the event, he meets other writers and writing professors, and more drama ensues. At some point, one of the guest writers at the conference goes missing and an investigation begins. Of course, this makes Shriver nervous, thinking his real identity might be revealed because of the probe.

Oh yes, this book is filled with writerly drama. It’s so entertaining. Or maybe I just really miss my writer friends, the drama that comes with them, and all the tea we normally get when we attend writing-related events.

But yes, I’m really happy I read it—especially at a time like this.

And, of course, it made me think a lot about writing. 

At some point in the novel, Shriver tries to come clean by telling people that he’s not really a writer. But instead of believing him, people just dismiss his claims as manifestations of some kind of an identity crisis. It’s funny, actually, because I sometimes react that way when a writer friend tries to tells me that they’re a fraud or feel like one, or when they rant about how convinced they are that they really should not be labeled as a writer.

Also, the fact that Shriver ends up composing a work of his own in the end makes me wonder: As writers, do we really begin as pretenders? Do we really fake it until we make it?

Oh. my. god. I never imagined this light and easy read would make me ask these heavy questions.

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