This post’s title is what Lockhart wrote when she signed my copy of We Were Liars at her book launch last night.
I’m usually willing to comply with authors’ requests, but any lie I told would be a tip off to the truth, because you’d know I was lying.
So: two truths and a lie (your task is to spot which is which).
1. At last night’s book launch, Lockhart had TRY written on the back of her right hand, and AGAIN on the back of her left. She was quirky, lively, at times silly, and never uncool. She was happy to sign not just my copy of this book, but also my copy of Disreputable History (on which she added “WOOF” in a speech bubble coming from the basset hound’s mouth). She is funny, but she can also be serious. Her summer reading list includes AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book. She said that when she reads Byatt, she doubts her own writing abilities. I’m not alone! (Although, true confession, I get those doubts when I read anything.)
2. We Were Liars contains shout-outs to Diana Wynne Jones, Jaclyn Moriarty, Shakespeare, and other authors. Cady, the protagonist, reads widely, but not obsessively. It’s Gat, the outsider in Cady’s all-white world, who sets himself the task of reading every book on a list of 100 greatest novels. On Beechwood Island, privately owned by Cady’s grandfather and where her extended family spends each summer, there is no library, so Gat has to scrounge books from the family homes and Martha’s Vineyard whenever they leave Beechwood. We never learn how he manages during the school year, when he’s back in NYC. Cady lives in Vermont with her divorced mother (dad’s in Colorado) and never hears from Gat or her cousins when they’re off the island. Kids!
3. I hated this book. Don’t read it.
OK, perhaps that was too easy. Here’s what I can tell, without revealing too much. Cross King Lear with Jacob Grimm, modernize it with a touch of Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, add a third generation of grandchildren and isolated summers in a type of Eden. Sprinkle with wealth and privilege. Then throw in an exotic outsider (Gat) during the 8th summer and see what happens over the next several years. In a word: Wow!
I’m not lying. Cross my heart.
Speaking of lies and liars, I’m reminded of this classic scene from Werner Herzog’s Kaspar Hauser: