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The Truth and Other Lies


The Truth and Other Lies

THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES begins with a vignette concerning Henry Hayden, who is being shown an ultrasound photo of his unborn child. This would be a cause for joy under normal circumstances, though for Henry it is anything but. The mother of the child is Henry’s girlfriend, Betty, as opposed to his wife, Martha.

Henry Hayden is a mega-bestselling author, a household name both to the general public and around the upper-crust waterfront resort where he resides. We learn quickly enough that the only writing Henry actually does is the shopping list; it is Martha who secretly is responsible for all the stories to which Henry attaches his name. And Betty? Betty is Henry’s editor at the once-failing but now prosperous publishing house that sends what they believe to be his written work out into the world.

"THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES is a good dose of dark, dangerous and deceitful fun, slyly and wonderfully told, that you will not soon forget."

That is the thread that will tie itself around you and tug you, without protest, into the world of THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES, Sascha Arango’s first novel, which has been translated for our reading pleasure by Imogen Taylor. Arango is a much-honored screenwriter in his native country; this talent is certainly demonstrated in his cinematic narrative, which shows, not tells, as Henry figuratively jumps from one ice flow to another in a river of troubles of his own creation as a group of unforgettable characters watch from the sidelines. Chief among them is Martha, in both the present and the past, who wants nothing more than to write. She and Henry have their own arrangement: he takes care of the household duties and plays the part of the famous author (with all of the rakish accruements that go along with it), while she writes and acts as the dutiful arm candy at the parties and events to which they are constantly invited.

Henry sees his way out of at least one difficulty, but his impulsive action actually resolves another while making everything else worse. Meanwhile, we learn in bits and pieces that he didn’t become a despicable cad when he hit the bestseller list; he’s been practicing and developing the part for a long time. That’s an aspect of his backstory that nobody knows, except for someone with a score to settle who has figured out who Henry really is and is about to act on it. The police are also interested in talking to Henry, because things happen around him with amazing coincidence.

And then...Henry falls in love. How many mistakes can one man make in such a short time? The answer is “quite a few,” but don’t underestimate Henry. As noted earlier, he’s been doing what he’s been doing --- with variations on an evil theme --- for a long, long time.

It’s no surprise that Arango’s debut has been a runaway bestseller in every country in which it has been published. There is much that resonates truthfully, to the extent that I would not be surprised if at least some of the characters and situations featured here have their very own real-world counterparts. Regardless, THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES is a good dose of dark, dangerous and deceitful fun, slyly and wonderfully told, that you will not soon forget.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 26, 2015

The Truth and Other Lies
by Sascha Arango