I recently noticed an Amazon review for Fontana posted by Stephen King.
I know this review is not from the Stephen King whose books I’ve read and enjoyed (especially the Dark Tower series). The reviewer is likely a reader who liked Fontana and wanted to post his (or her) thoughts on Amazon, so he chose the name of a famous writer as his identity. Maybe the assumed name compliments me by implying that a notable author would give four stars to Fontana. Maybe it’s just the first name that came to mind.
Or maybe the reviewer is actually Stephen King. Not the author of Carrie and The Shining, but Stephen King, a man with the same name as horror royalty. In securing this website’s domain, I discovered there are at least a dozen men named Joshua Martino. Stephen King combines two names more common than either of mine, so there must be many. I’ve got a pal named Benjamin Black, and he’s definitely not this guy.
I hope the reviewer’s name is actually Stephen King. I don’t know anyone by that name, and I’m grateful whenever a new reader takes the time to praise or critique my writing. I also hope he’s reading this blog, as I have a book to recommend. Stephen, you should check out Operation Shylock by Philip Roth. It’s a recent read for me, as I’m revisiting Roth on the occasion of his retirement.
Here’s why you should read this book, Stephen. In Operation Shylock, Roth himself is the central character. He discovers an impostor, a man who calls himself Philip Roth. The impersonator, in fact, resembles the author and has assumed his identity in order to further a bizarre political agenda. The real Roth travels across the globe to confront his double. When they meet, the impostor is overcome with delight:
”Philip Roth! The real Philip Roth–after all these years!” His body trembled with emotion, tremendous emotion even in the two hands that tightly grasped my back.
It required a series of violent thrusts with my elbows to unlock his hold on me. “And you,” I said, shoving him a little as I stepped away, “you must be the fake Philip Roth.”
He laughed. But still cried! Not even in my mental simulation had I loathed him quite as I did seeing those stupid, unaccountable tears.
“Fake, oh, compared to you, absolutely fake–compared to you, nothing, no one, a cipher. I can’t tell you what it’s like for me! … I’m sorry, but imagine yourself in my place, for me–to meet you–in Jerusalem! What brings you here?”
To this dazzling little question, so ingenuously put, I heard myself reply, “Passing through.”
You should read Operation Shylock, Stephen. And I’m glad you enjoyed Fontana. Hopefully my next book earns that fifth star.