Author: Daniel Hayes
Publisher: Graywolf Press
2402 University Ave, suite 203
Saint Paul, MN 55114
Price: $15 US
The following review first appeared on Norm Goldman's Book Reviewing site, bookpleasures.com.
Although, I don’t recommend abducting an editor and keeping him captive for several weeks, that is just what novelist Daniel Hayes’ principal character, Evan Ulmer, accomplishes when he imprisons in his basement editor Robert Partnow who had previously rejected his manuscript.
Tearjerker revolves around three characters, Ulmer, Partnow and Ulmer’s platonic girlfriend, Promise Buckley. The dialogue among all three weaves back and forth touching on such subjects as rejection, unethical behaviour on the part of editors, media sensationalism, revenge, and frustration.
Partnow has no idea why he was abducted until he is informed that he had signed a rejection letter pertaining to Ulmer’s manuscript that had been submitted to him by a well-known literary agent. Apparently, Partnow apologetically admits he never read the manuscript, even though he signed the letter that contained all kinds of comments pertaining to its deficiencies.
On the other hand, the abductor is not quite sure the motive behind his irrational behavior. This comes out after he misleads Buckley into believing he is writing a fictional novel concerning the abduction of an editor; she confronts him and asks him what is the kidnapper’s motivation in his novel- his reply, “that’s the part I can’t figure out, I said. And it’s sort of driving me crazy.” Was it an act of revenge or could it just be put down to his frustration? In addition, even after the satisfaction of abducting Partnow, things don’t seem to turn out as expected.
Ulmer takes a swat at the media as they have automatically presumed that Partnow had been abducted without perhaps considering that perhaps he just skipped town and decided to change his life. They never received any written or oral communication from Ulmer or Partnow, and after all what makes them so sure that there was in fact abduction?
The media furthermore digs up some confidential personal facts about Partnow pertaining to his homosexual escapades and plays this up for all it is worth, no matter the consequences to his family.
Tearjerker, although a work of fiction, is a clever conceived novel that plunges readers into the depths of a disturbing world of book publishing, where power hungry editors sometimes overlook some great books and authors, all in the name of profitability, Hayes has effectively blended fantasy with realism in a plot that will sure to linger on in one’s memory long after the book’s reading has been completed.