“While this novel was inspired by certain events in my life,” he writes in an author’s note, “it does not recount the actual events of my life. Instead, it depicts an imaginary world of my own creation.”
The protagonist, also named Stephen Glass, is a young journalist at the fictional Washington Weekly fired for falsifying several articles. Glass’s alter ego takes the reader on a 339-page journey through his psyche, never fully providing himself, or anyone else, answers.
He learns that his biggest challenge is fending off the ravenous media, who hound him and his family in search of an exclusive interview: “I had been predatory, and now I was powerless: My fate would be decided in articles written by others, appearing in publications for which I would never again write. . . . Even if what they wrote was false or wrongheaded or merely mis-spun, I would have no recourse, for who would believe me now? . . . If there were a special hell designed personally for me, it would probably have been this very hell.”
Glass’s tale is filled with exaggerated characters—egotistical editor, heartless ex-girlfriend, maniacal reporter—all of whom make him feel inferior. His best friend at the Weekly tells him, “I think deep down you’re a need junkie. You have an uncanny ability to tap in to people’s deep psychological needs and satisfy them.”
The protagonist’s own critique proves accurate but predictable: “What I truly wanted,” he says, “was to be well regarded by people around me—actually, to be loved by them.”
Readers looking for deeper complexities will be unsatisfied. Fear not—the Hollywood adaptation is near. It may prove more insightful than Glass himself.