How Fiction Works


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780374173401
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 265
View: 1075

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A book-length essay by the forefront literary critic takes readers on a philosophical tour of the art of the novel, in a wide-ranging piece that explores such topics as the definition of style, the connection between realism and real life, and the qualities that make a story. By the author of The Irresponsible Self.

How Fiction Works


Author: Oakley Hall
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 9781582972930
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 228
View: 850

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Think of your fiction like a clock, a marvel of mainsprings and wheels, pinions and pendulums. It's an extraordinary organization of diverse elements, channeling energy and tension into the regular coordination of action and reaction, rotating gears and moving hands. &break;&break;Oakley Hall, writing teacher emeritus, invites you as his apprentice to study fiction's inner workings, the pegs and screws upon which a good story depends. You'll find the elements of fiction examined and illuminated, with insights into how they must interact to create a distinctive story. &break;&break;In sharing lessons taught by years of experience and by citing examples from dozens of esteemed writers, Hall makes working alongside a master thoroughly pleasurable, as well as an invaluable opportunity to craft fiction that is tuned like a precision timepiece.

How Novels Work


Author: John Mullan
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191622923
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 368
View: 4349

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Never has contemporary fiction been more widely discussed and passionately analysed; recent years have seen a huge growth in the number of reading groups and in the interest of a non-academic readership in the discussion of how novels work. Drawing on his weekly Guardian column, 'Elements of Fiction', John Mullan examines novels mostly of the last ten years, many of which have become firm favourites with reading groups. He reveals the rich resources of novelistic technique, setting recent fiction alongside classics of the past. Nick Hornby's adoption of a female narrator is compared to Daniel Defoe's; Ian McEwan's use of weather is set against Austen's and Hardy's; Carole Shield's chapter divisions are likened to Fanny Burney's. Each section shows how some basic element of fiction is used. Some topics (like plot, dialogue, or location) will appear familiar to most novel readers; others (metanarrative, prolepsis, amplification) will open readers' eyes to new ways of understanding and appreciating the writer's craft. How Novels Work explains how the pleasures of novel reading often come from the formal ingenuity of the novelist. It is an entertaining and stimulating exploration of that ingenuity. Addressed to anyone who is interested in the close reading of fiction, it makes visible techniques and effects we are often only half-aware of as we read. It shows that literary criticism is something that all fiction enthusiasts can do. Contemporary novels discussed include: Monica Ali's Brick Lane; Martin Amis's Money; Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin; A.S. Byatt's Possession; Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club; J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace; Michael Cunningham's The Hours; Don DeLillo's Underworld; Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White; Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love; Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections; Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Patricia Highsmith's Ripley under Ground; Alan Hollinghurst's The Spell; Nick Hornby's How to Be Good; Ian McEwan's Atonement; John le Carré's The Constant Gardener; Andrea Levy's Small Island; David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas; Andrew O'Hagan's Personality; Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red; Ann Patchett's Bel Canto; Ruth Rendell's Adam and Eve and Pinch Me; Philip Roth's The Human Stain; Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated; Carol Shields's Unless; Zadie Smith's White Teeth; Muriel Spark's Aiding and Abetting; Graham Swift's Last Orders; Donna Tartt's The Secret History; William Trevor's The Hill Bachelors; and Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road .

How Literature Works

50 Key Concepts
Author: John Sutherland
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 019979426X
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 224
View: 8901

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How Literature Works is an indispensable book for any reader seeking a greater appreciation of their favorite novel, poem, or play. It offers a lively and straightforward guide to literary thinking. With a series of compact essays, the renowned literary critic John Sutherland--widely admired for his wit and clear reasoning--strips away the obscurity and pretension of literary study. His book offers concise definitions and clear examples of the fifty concepts that all book lovers should know. It includes basic descriptive terms (ambiguity, epic), the core vocabulary of literary culture (genre, style), and devices employed by authors (irony, defamiliarization). More broadly, How Literature Works explores the animating concepts behind literary theory (textuality, sexual politics), traces the forces that impact literature's role in the real world (obscenity, plagiarism), and grapples with the future of reading (fanfic, e-book). For any reader who wants to get the most out of the literature they read, Sutherland's short sharp book will both inform and delight.

The Book Against God

A Novel
Author: James Wood
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9781429932127
Category: Fiction
Page: 272
View: 570

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A Passionate, Profoundly Funny First Novel from "the Best Literary Critic of His Generation" (Adam Begley, Financial Times) Thomas Bunting, the charming, chaotic, and deeply untruthful narrator of James Wood's wonderful first novel, is in despair. His marriage is disintegrating and his academic career is in ruins: instead of completing his philosophy Ph.D. (still unfinished after seven years), he is secretly writing what he hopes will be his masterwork, a vast atheistic project he has privately entitled "The Book Against God." But when his father suddenly falls ill, Thomas returns to the tiny village in the north of England where he grew up and where his father still works as a parish priest. There, Thomas hopes, he may finally be able to communicate honestly with his father, a brilliant and formidable Christian example, and sort out his own wayward life. But Thomas is a chronic liar as well as an atheist, and he finds, instead, that once at home he soon reverts to the evasive patterns of his childhood years—with disastrous results. The story of a husband and wife, a father and son, faith and disbelief, and a hero who couldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it, The Book Against God is at once hilarious and poignant; it introduces an original comic voice—edgy, elegiac, lyrical, and indignant—and, in the irrepressible Thomas Bunting, one of the strangest philosophers in contemporary fiction.

The Lost Art of Reading

Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time
Author: David L. Ulin
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
ISBN: 157061721X
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 160
View: 8089

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Reading is a revolutionary act, an act of engagement in a culture that wants us to disengage. In The Lost Art of Reading, David L. Ulin asks a number of timely questions - why is literature important? What does it offer, especially now? Blending commentary with memoir, Ulin addresses the importance of the simple act of reading in an increasingly digital culture. Reading a book, flipping through hard pages, or shuffling them on screen - it doesn't matter. The key is the act of reading, and it's seriousness and depth. Ulin emphasizes the importance of reflection and pause allowed by stopping to read a book, and the accompanying focus required to let the mind run free in a world that is not one's own. Are we willing to risk our collective interest in contemplation, nuanced thinking, and empathy? Far from preaching to the choir, The Lost Art of Reading is a call to arms, or rather, to pages.

Upstate

A Novel
Author: James Wood
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374718202
Category: Fiction
Page: 224
View: 2705

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New Yorker book critic and award-winning author James Wood delivers a novel of a family struggling to connect with one another and find meaning in their own lives. In the years since his daughter Vanessa moved to America to become a professor of philosophy, Alan Querry has never been to visit. He has been too busy at home in northern England, holding together his business as a successful property developer. His younger daughter, Helen—a music executive in London—hasn’t gone, either, and the two sisters, close but competitive, have never quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce and the early death of their mother. But when Vanessa’s new boyfriend sends word that she has fallen into a severe depression and that he’s worried for her safety, Alan and Helen fly to New York and take the train to Saratoga Springs. Over the course of six wintry days in upstate New York, the Querry family begins to struggle with the questions that animate this profound and searching novel: Why do some people find living so much harder than others? Is happiness a skill that might be learned or a cruel accident of birth? Is reflection conducive to happiness or an obstacle to it? If, as a favorite philosopher of Helen’s puts it, “the only serious enterprise is living,” how should we live? Rich in subtle human insight, full of poignant and often funny portraits, and vivid with a sense of place, James Wood’s Upstate is a powerful, intense, beautiful novel.

Six Walks in the Fictional Woods


Author: Umberto Eco
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674503953
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 160
View: 3772

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In this exhilarating book, we accompany Umberto Eco as he explores the intricacies of fictional form and method. Using examples ranging from fairy tales and Flaubert, Poe and Mickey Spillane, Eco draws us in by means of a novelist's techniques, making us his collaborators in the creation of his text and in the investigation of some of fiction's most basic mechanisms.

The Fun Stuff

And Other Essays
Author: James Wood
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374709068
Category: Literary Collections
Page: 352
View: 3036

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Following The Broken Estate, The Irresponsible Self, and How Fiction Works—books that established James Wood as the leading critic of his generation—The Fun Stuff confirms Wood's preeminence, not only as a discerning judge but also as an appreciator of the contemporary novel. In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches—that range over such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy, Leon Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov—Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel. He effortlessly connects his encyclopedic, passionate understanding of the literary canon with an equally in-depth analysis of the most important authors writing today, including Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, Aleksandar Hemon, and Michel Houellebecq. Included in The Fun Stuff are the title essay on Keith Moon and the lost joys of drumming—which was a finalist for last year's National Magazine Awards—as well as Wood's essay on George Orwell, which Christopher Hitchens selected for the Best American Essays 2010. The Fun Stuff is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about contemporary literature.

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

A Novel
Author: Reif Larsen
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0698148231
Category: Fiction
Page: 400
View: 4454

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Discover The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet for iPad. A brilliant, boundary-leaping debut novel tracing twelve-year-old genius map maker T.S. Spivet's attempts to understand the ways of the world When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal-if you consider mapping family dinner table conversation normal-is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum's hallowed halls. T.S. sets out alone, leaving before dawn with a plan to hop a freight train and hobo east. Once aboard, his adventures step into high gear and he meticulously maps, charts, and illustrates his exploits, documenting mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the urban phenomenon of "rims," and the pleasures of McDonald's, among other things. We come to see the world through T.S.'s eyes and in his thorough investigation of the outside world he also reveals himself. As he travels away from the ranch and his family we learn how the journey also brings him closer to home. A secret family history found within his luggage tells the story of T.S.'s ancestors and their long-ago passage west, offering profound insight into the family he left behind and his role within it. As T.S. reads he discovers the sometimes shadowy boundary between fact and fiction and realizes that, for all his analytical rigor, the world around him is a mystery. All that he has learned is tested when he arrives at the capital to claim his prize and is welcomed into science's inner circle. For all its shine, fame seems more highly valued than ideas in this new world and friends are hard to find. T.S.'s trip begins at the Copper Top Ranch and the last known place he stands is Washington, D.C., but his journey's movement is far harder to track: How do you map the delicate lessons learned about family and self? How do you depict how it feels to first venture out on your own? Is there a definitive way to communicate the ebbs and tides of heartbreak, loss, loneliness, love? These are the questions that strike at the core of this very special debut. Now a major motion picture directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Kyle Catlett and Helena Bonham Carter. From the Hardcover edition.

The Broken Estate

Essays on Literature and Belief
Author: James Wood
Publisher: Modern Library
ISBN: 0804151903
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 304
View: 5294

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This book recalls an era when criticism could change the way we look at the world. In the tradition of Matthew Arnold and Edmund Wilson, James Wood reads literature expansively, always pursuing its role and destiny in our lives. In a series of essays about such figures as Melville, Flaubert, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, and Don DeLillo, Wood relates their fiction to questions of religious and philosophical belief. He suggests that the steady ebb of the sea of faith has much to do with the revo- lutionary power of the novel, as it has developed over the last two centuries. To read James Wood is to be shocked into both thinking and feeling how great our debt to the novel is. In the grand tradition of criticism, Wood's work is both commentary and literature in its own right--fiercely written, polemical, and richly poetic in style. This book marks the debut of a masterly literary voice.

The Nearest Thing to Life


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Brandeis University Press
ISBN: 1611687438
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 144
View: 6715

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In this remarkable blend of memoir and criticism, James Wood, noted contributor to the New Yorker, has written a master class on the connections between fiction and life. He argues that, of all the arts, fiction has a unique ability to describe the shape of our lives and to rescue the texture of those lives from death and historical oblivion. The act of reading is understood here as the most sacred and personal of activities, and there are brilliant discussions of individual works - among others, Chekhov's story "The Kiss," W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants, and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower. Wood reveals his own intimate relationship with the written word: we see the development of a provincial boy growing up in a charged Christian environment, the secret joy of his childhood reading, the links he makes between reading and blasphemy, or between literature and music. The final section discusses fiction in the context of exile and homelessness. The Nearest Thing to LifeÊis not simply a brief, tightly argued book by a man commonly regarded as our finest living critic - it is also an exhilarating personal account that reflects on, and embodies, the fruitful conspiracy between reader and writer (and critic), and asks us to reconsider everything that is at stake when we read and write fiction.

The Art of Fiction

Notes on Craft for Young Writers
Author: John Gardner
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307756718
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 240
View: 9553

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This classic guide, from the renowned novelist and professor, has helped transform generations of aspiring writers into masterful writers—and will continue to do so for many years to come. John Gardner was almost as famous as a teacher of creative writing as he was for his own works. In this practical, instructive handbook, based on the courses and seminars that he gave, he explains, simply and cogently, the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner’s lessons, exemplified with detailed excerpts from classic works of literature, sweep across a complete range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence. Written with passion, precision, and a deep respect for the art of writing, Gardner’s book serves by turns as a critic, mentor, and friend. Anyone who has ever thought of taking the step from reader to writer should begin here. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve

What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing
Author: Ben Blatt
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1501105388
Category: Humor
Page: 288
View: 8687

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What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? How can we judge a book by its cover? Data meets literature in this playful and informative look at our favorite authors and their masterpieces. “A literary detective story: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and intriguing.” —Brian Christian, coauthor of Algorithms to Live By There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs like “quickly” or “fitfully.” It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the -ly adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice compared to other celebrated authors? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait? In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, statistician and journalist Ben Blatt brings big data to the literary canon, exploring the wealth of fun findings that remain hidden in the works of the world’s greatest writers. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and starts asking the questions that have intrigued curious word nerds and book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Are bestsellers getting dumber over time? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring? Blatt draws upon existing analysis techniques and invents some of his own. All of his investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to understand the results. Blatt breaks his findings down into lucid, humorous language and clear and compelling visuals. This eye-opening book will provide you with a new appreciation for your favorite authors and a fresh perspective on your own writing, illuminating both the patterns that hold great prose together and the brilliant flourishes that make it unforgettable.

Walk the Blue Fields

Stories
Author: Claire Keegan
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
ISBN: 0802189725
Category: Fiction
Page: 192
View: 7914

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Claire Keegan’s brilliant debut collection, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and earned her resounding accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. Now she has delivered her next, much-anticipated book, Walk the Blue Fields, an unforgettable array of quietly wrenching stories about despair and desire in the timeless world of modern-day Ireland. In the never-before-published story “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer awarded a stay to work in Heinrich Böll’s old cottage has her peace interrupted by an unwelcome intruder, whose ulterior motives only emerge as the night progresses. In the title story, a priest waits at the altar to perform a marriage and, during the ceremony and the festivities that follow, battles his memories of a love affair with the bride that led him to question all to which he has dedicated his life; later that night, he finds an unlikely answer in the magical healing powers of a seer. A masterful portrait of a country wrestling with its past and of individuals eking out their futures, Walk the Blue Fields is a breathtaking collection from one of Ireland’s greatest talents, and a resounding articulation of all the yearnings of the human heart.

Contemporary Drift

Genre, Historicism, and the Problem of the Present
Author: Theodore Martin
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231543891
Category: Performing Arts
Page: 272
View: 603

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What does it mean to call something “contemporary”? More than simply denoting what’s new, it speaks to how we come to know the present we’re living in and how we develop a shared story about it. The story of trying to understand the present is an integral, yet often unnoticed, part of the literature and film of our moment. In Contemporary Drift, Theodore Martin argues that the contemporary is not just a historical period but also a conceptual problem, and he claims that contemporary genre fiction offers a much-needed resource for resolving that problem. Contemporary Drift combines a theoretical focus on the challenge of conceptualizing the present with a historical account of contemporary literature and film. Emphasizing both the difficulty and the necessity of historicizing the contemporary, the book explores how recent works of fiction depict life in an age of global capitalism, postindustrialism, and climate change. Through new histories of the novel of manners, film noir, the Western, detective fiction, and the postapocalyptic novel, Martin shows how the problem of the contemporary preoccupies a wide range of novelists and filmmakers, including Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead, Vikram Chandra, China Miéville, Kelly Reichardt, and the Coen brothers. Martin argues that genre provides these artists with a formal strategy for understanding both the content and the concept of the contemporary. Genre writing, with its mix of old and new, brings to light the complicated process by which we make sense of our present and determine what belongs to our time.

Blindsight


Author: Peter Watts
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9781429955195
Category: Fiction
Page: 384
View: 4827

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Blindsight is the Hugo Award–nominated novel by Peter Watts, "a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive" (The Globe and Mail). Two months have past since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since—until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who should we send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn't want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder and a biologist so spliced with machinery that he can't feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they've been sent to find—but you'd give anything for that to be true, if you knew what was waiting for them. . . . At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Drive

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Author: Daniel H. Pink
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9781101524381
Category: Business & Economics
Page: 272
View: 5258

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Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it's precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today's challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation: *Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives *Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters *Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward. Drive is bursting with big ideas—the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.

Provenance

How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
Author: Laney Salisbury,Aly Sujo
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1101105003
Category: History
Page: 352
View: 3512

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A tautly paced investigation of one the 20th century's most audacious art frauds, which generated hundreds of forgeries-many of them still hanging in prominent museums and private collections today Provenance is the extraordinary narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate deceptions in art history. Investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo brilliantly recount the tale of a great con man and unforgettable villain, John Drewe, and his sometimes unwitting accomplices. Chief among those was the struggling artist John Myatt, a vulnerable single father who was manipulated by Drewe into becoming a prolific art forger. Once Myatt had painted the pieces, the real fraud began. Drewe managed to infiltrate the archives of the upper echelons of the British art world in order to fake the provenance of Myatt's forged pieces, hoping to irrevocably legitimize the fakes while effectively rewriting art history. The story stretches from London to Paris to New York, from tony Manhattan art galleries to the esteemed Giacometti and Dubuffet associations, to the archives at the Tate Gallery. This enormous swindle resulted in the introduction of at least two hundred forged paintings, some of them breathtakingly good and most of them selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of these fakes are still out in the world, considered genuine and hung prominently in private houses, large galleries, and prestigious museums. And the sacred archives, undermined by John Drewe, remain tainted to this day. Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller, filled with unforgettable characters and told at a breakneck pace. But this is most certainly not fiction; Provenance is the meticulously researched and captivating account of one of the greatest cons in the history of art forgery.