The Poser: A Novel

The Poser cover
March 17, 2015
Read an excerpt from The Poser.

All his life Giovanni Bernini has possessed an uncanny gift: he can imitate anyone he meets. Honed by his mother at a young age, the talent catapults him from small-town obscurity to stardom.

As Giovanni describes it, “No one's disguise is perfect. There is in every person, no matter how graceful, a seam, a thread curling out of them. . . . When pulled by the right hands, it will unravel the person entire." As his fame grows, Giovanni encounters a beautiful and enigmatic stage singer, Lucy Starlight — the only person whose thread he cannot find — while becoming increasingly trapped within his many poses.

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"Jacob Rubin writes with more vitality, drive, and vision than any young writer I've seen in ten years."

Barry Hannah

The Poser is smart and grand and funny, a wonderful fable. Mr. Rubin is a great hope for comic fiction in the 21st century. He's got the spirit and the ear."

Sam Lipsyte

New York Times bestselling author of The Ask

"The liveliest prose and most ebullient voice in fiction I've read in some time. Full of rich, odd, humorously soulful, and tortured souls who yearn for – well, they don't often know, even if they think they do, but they want it. It's a romp, this novel, as if Dickens spawned Stanley Elkin and the Pynchon of The Crying of Lot 49, yet the voice is Rubin's own. Masterful prose, full of kinetic energy."

Brad Watson

author of the National Book Award finalist The Heaven of Mercury and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

"With twists and snap and more than its share of vaudevillian flair, The Poser is often-dazzling, a high-wire entertainment about entertainment. Jacob Rubin is a first-rate comic writer, and somehow, don't ask me how, he's crafted a hummingly smooth, aching look at why we perform, loneliness, and the nature of self."

Charles Bock

New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children

The Poser seduces with its imaginative energy, the sheer wit and reach of its invention, but is propelled at its core by a deeply human generosity to its characters—their fierce and confused and fragile hearts."

Leslie Jamison

New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams

"I yawped—because when you read a book as exquisite as The Poser, you yawp. Have you ever met a character like Giovanni Bernini? My heart breaks even now. With astonishing control, Mr. Rubin has created the perfect comic noir tragedy of mimicry and betrayal, of great love and greater loss. Bernini is one of fiction's great ciphers and his parallel universe is such a good imitation of our universe I can no longer distinguish which is which. This is a novel that will be loved and admired for years to come."

Reif Larsen

New York Times bestselling author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet and I Am Radar

"Jacob Rubin has, to borrow a term from his wondrous debut novel about the world's greatest impressionist, deftly unraveled the 'thread' of his protagonist and impersonated a writer twenty years his senior. The Poser is a rollicking picaresque that is also a surprisingly affecting meditation on authenticity and loneliness."

Teddy Wayne

Whiting Writers' Award-winning author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

"Jacob Rubin's The Poser is a tour de force of voice, a genius act of ventriloquism, a terrific novel. From the opening you'll be hooked, as I was, and you'll love it all the way through."

Tom Franklin

New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter