Follow Here To Purchase All Men Are Liars

Author: Alberto Manguel

Publisher: Riverhead Books

ISBN: 978-1594488351


We hear so many lies in our daily lives that we can be forgiven for becoming cynical. Those of us who love books can also be forgiven for cynicism when a new novel is tagged as ‘brilliant’, but in this case the word is fitting.

The title comes from another brilliant piece of writing, the Bible (Psalm 116:2) – “I said in my haste, All men are liars.” In this work, Alberto Manguel has written a novel that, while having detective story elements, also reflects on the fluidity of writing and language and how they are thankfully so difficult to contain.

All Men are Liars revolves around the death of Alejandro Bevilacqua, an Argentinean expatriate who dies after falling off a balcony the day before his book, In Praise of Lying, is published. The story of his life is told by other Argentinean expatriates who knew him, including one of his enemies, a former fellow inmate, a once lover, and delightfully the character Alberto Manguel, himself. Of course, like witnesses to an accident, each person’s account varies in important details and because of these variations the whole account becomes unreliable.

Still, truth depends on the teller; in chapter one, Manguel hints at this as he prepares the reader for what is to come with a quote from Michel de Montaigne: “What of a truth that is bounded by these mountains and is falsehood to the world that lives beyond?”

In addition to being a novelist, Manguel is an essayist, editor, translator, and anthologist. His previous books include the bestselling A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading. His writing is always entrancing and this novel is no exception. His fluid style and ability to pitch on small details that become unforgettable – such as when he writes of an old woman that she was a “font-kisser”, having never missed a day’s Mass – make him such a pleasure to read.

He is also a writer who makes his reader think, something I find pleasurable, as well. In this novel, he shows the difficulty of labeling something ‘truth’ or ‘lie,’ but also pits obvious truth - “It’s strange, but sometimes I cannot be absolutely sure whether a certain memory is mine or his,” – against obvious lie - “Be honest and good and you’ll be happy,” the Fairy told him. (The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi). The effect is unbalancing but also exhilarating, as is the sum total of this novel.


Follow Here To Purchase All Men Are Liars