by Benjamin Markovits
Norton. 398 pages, $14.95
THIS INVENTIVE NOVEL tells two interrelated stories. In the main one, an author named Ben Markovits is traveling around the U.S. and England in pursuit of information about his recently deceased former colleague, Peter Sullivan, whose writings form the secondary narrative. Sullivan was a teacher at a prestigious New York private school, an eccentric figure with a scandal in his past, but one of Markovits’ few friends as a fellow teacher. After Sullivan’s death, Markovits receives a package containing three fictional tales written by his friend, all well-researched fantasias from the life of Lord Byron. In the course of Markovits’ investigations and journey to publish and promote his friend’s work, he uncovers the details about Sullivan’s relationship with a male student during his time as a teacher in Boston, discovering hidden sides of his friend reflected in these writings.