Review: Jacob Rubin’s ‘The Poser’print”

March 27, 2015 12:14 PM

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Giovanni Bernini, the narrator of Jacob Rubin’s wonderful debut novel, is a mirror and a sponge. As soon as he meets people, he feels the urge to become them. His imitations can be a form of flattery and an act of insult. But try looking for the real Giovanni behind all the voices and postures he assumes, and you’ll soon be as lost as he is. The result is a slippery meditation on the nature of identity delivered with vaudeville verve.

Rubin sets The Poser in an alternative United States (never named) in what feels like the 1950s. As it opens, we learn that Giovanni has made a stage career of his eerie talents. “Gestures are a costume,” he says, and every guise contains what he calls a “thread.” “Pulled by the right hands,” he ass...

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