Despite the fifteen unfinished novels on her hard drive, Iris Bell is a master of fiction. She revels in illusion –other people’s, about themselves. In fact, it’s her business. Iris ghostwrites autobiographies. A few, of minor celebrities or semi-seminal personalities, have been published by boutique firms, but most are the deathbed vanity press variety –autobiographies for clients ordering up some final meaning for their muddled lives.
As perpetual observer, Iris has never been truly embroiled in her own life. She’s had her share of pathos –wistful stories of unrequited love, dashed dreams, failed ambitions. But she simply can’t help being the omniscient narrator, too coolly self-aware to be consumed by what is always ultimately artifice.
Just when Iris believes she’s exhausted all the great themes in her own life (mid-life ennui aside), Manuel Sosa enters the scene. He’s her new Latino landscaper, and in him, Iris finds her most compelling tragic hero. Exiled from his country and family, Manuel is an ex-revolutionary who, imprisoned and tortured, nearly sacrificed his life for the most marvelously futile of causes –“freedom” in a tiny landlocked South American country notable only for the historic scope of its catastrophic wars and the brutality of its revolving-door dictatorships. Entranced by this alien world ruled by action, not perception, Iris becomes progressively entangled with Manuel and their great “worlds colliding” love story. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s merely a bit player in a drama of proportions she’s yet to imagine.
This is the kind of novel that doesn't lend itself to the now cliche Template of Hook but that's exactly what you need.
You're awash in telling me about Iris and Manuel but without action, plot, conflict, it's all just contemplative navel gazing. I realize that's part of the book but here in the hook I really want to know we're not just going to sit around talking IN the novel.
On the other hand, as we all know I'd prefer to be ON fire rather than sitting in front of one.