A Version of the Truth
Delacorte Press, hardcover, 322 p., $24
By Laura Tate / Editor
The downtrodden, lacking in formal education and self-worth, might identify with-and receive hope from-“A Version of The Truth,” the second novel by Los Angeles authoring team Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack, who co-wrote “Literacy and Longing in L.A.” The story in “Version” is depressing, funny and hopeful, and overall an entertaining read.
The story centers on a 30-year-old woman, Cassie, whose husband dies leaving her with nothing. She has no college degree, no skills except working with animals at a wildlife center in Topanga, is lacking style in dress and overall grooming, and also lacking confidence in any abilities she might have. So, to get a job at a university she lies on her resume about a nonexistent college degree, a lie that ominously hangs over every event, relationship or hopes for the future she may have. In her new job, Cassie quickly finds herself pulled into a world she always wished she could be part of-educated, having smart discussions on various subjects with like-minded intellectuals, writings papers that are praiseworthy, going to hip events, and being in the presence of a handsome hunk of a college professor, Conner, for whom she files papers.
An Eliza Doolittle transformation takes over Cassie. She attends lectures, transcribing them for Conner, but educating herself at the same time, cuts her hair, buys an unaffordable dress and slowly falls in love.
The humor comes in Cassie’s acerbic, straightforward comments to herself about her life. On her husband’s death by driving off a cliff: “I was the epitome of freeway fantasy for divorcees and unhappy housewives … Your partner walks out of the house one morning and shortly thereafter you get the call, the one you’ve been hoping for all those lousy years. It’s clean. It’s final. You’re free. A life cut short by a happy coincidence.”
The transformation of Cassie and what she achieves by the end of the story is believable; although she learns, as we all do, that lying is not a good thing.
Diesel, A Bookstore is hosting a Literary Luncheon with Kaufman and Mack as guests, Feb. 8, noon, at Guido’s restaurant, where the authors will read excerpts from and sign copies of their book. Tickets are $60, which includes a copy of the book and lunch, and are available for purchase at Diesel, A Bookstore, 3890 Cross Creek Rd. More information can be obtained by calling 310.456.9961.