Henry Goldblatt
April 30, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Body of Jonah Boyd

Current Status
In Season
David Leavitt

We gave it an A-

Plagiarism is at the center of Leavitt’s new novel, which arrives a decade after British poet Stephen Spender accused him of lifting portions of Spender’s autobiography, World Within World, for the novel While England Sleeps. You can read Boyd as Confessions of a Plagiarist (Leavitt unsurprisingly treats his wrongdoer with kid gloves). But it’s more compelling as a family drama told by Denny, a dowdy university assistant who ingrains herself into the lives of her boss (as a lover), his wife (as a best friend), and their kids. A blend of Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm and Zoe Heller’s 2003 critical darling What Was She Thinking?, Boyd works because Leavitt drops you into this family, allows you to muck around in its glorious dysfunction, and then extracts you in an ingenious way.

You May Like