Cover image for Misconception : a memoir novel
Misconception : a memoir novel
Boudinot, Ryan, 1972-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Black Cat, imprint of Grove/Atlantic, [2009]

Physical Description:
215 pages, 9 unnumbered pages ; 19 cm
Cedar Rivers has come to upstate New York, to help Kat Daniels, by vetting her memoir, an account of the summer they were sweethearts.
General Note:
Subtitle on both title page and cover, have the word <memoir> crossed out.

Includes a Grove Press reading group guide, by Susan Avery, including bibliographical references.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



Cedar Rivers is on a strange errand. A doctor sidelined into the strange world of the first dot-com boom, he has come to Albany, New York, in between business in Iceland and home in Silicon Valley, to meet a woman he hasn't seen in twenty years. Then a Chuck Taylor-shod proto-Goth with chipped black nail polish, Kat is now a literary up-and-comer who needs Cedar to vet her memoir--an account of the summer they were sweethearts. As if that weren't enough, she's written parts of it from his point of view. Through an intense weekend in a snowed-in motel room, Cedar and Kat relive their most painful memories: Before they had a chance at first love, Kat's mother and her new fiancé dragged Kat off on a family trip. Kat returned with a secret, one which--when she shared it with Cedar--set off a series of drastically miscalculated assumptions that dominoed into a moment of startling tragedy. Misconception is a startlingly original debut novel--a smart and provocative coming-of-age story, and a fresh and witty comment on the unreliability of memory and storytelling--that establishes Ryan Boudinot as one of the most promising talents of his generation.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cedar gets suspended in eighth grade for bringing a sample of his semen to science class. Bad move, but at least it captures the attention of classmate and budding beauty Kat. The ensuing summer romance ends badly, however, when the girl gets pregnant. Flash forward 20 years: the two reunite in an airport motel. Kat, now a published author, has written a memoir and needs a legal release from Cedar, since half of the manuscript is written (by her) from his point of view! If this sounds like a recipe for unreliable narration, it is, as the point of view, moving backward and forward in time, keeps shifting from Cedar to Kat or does it? And is it a memoir or a million little pieces of fiction? This episodic exercise in fractured form, Boudinot's first novel, isn't as quirkily amusing as The Littlest Hitler (2006), his previous collection of inventive and often outrageous short stories. But it has its moments, enough at least to engage most readers' occasionally puzzled attention to the problematic end.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2009 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A breezy, humorous first novel from Boudinot (after his collection, The Littlest Hitler) chronicles the awkward coming-of-age of a boy whose middle-school crush entwines him into the girl's dysfunctional family. Cedar Rivers is first introduced when he brings in his own semen for inspection under the microscope in eighth-grade science class, a stunt that impresses incipient beauty Kat Daniels. Groping summer sexual experiments ensue and are cut short as Kat has to spend a month traveling with her mom and her mom's creepy new boyfriend, George. When Kat returns pregnant, George is the assumed suspect. Boudinot is not overly concerned by this flimsy plot, managing to inject textual interest by alternating the narrative in the voices of first Cedar then Kat, whom Cedar meets with 20 years later to sign a waiver regarding the memoir she's about to publish. There are ironic, tongue-in-cheek moments ("Ryan Boudinot" is the name of a critic who reviewed Kat's first book), perhaps to remind the reader not to take any of this too seriously-especially the over-the-top ending-while Boudinot provides moments of gossamer prose. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This debut novel from award-winning short story writer Boudinot is a coming-of-age-with-a-vengeance tale. Cedar Rivers is called to snowbound Albany by a former girlfriend to vet her memoir, which recalls events that took place during their summer romance-some of it written from his perspective. Reading the memoir takes Cedar back to that painful time of adolescent awkwardness, the breakup of his parent's marriage, his overwhelming obsession with sex, and the deadly result of his misconception of the events that overtake him. Using an interesting and innovative construct-the reader doesn't at first realize that the opening is actually a chapter from the memoir-Boudinot captures the confusing and sex-driven nature of adolescence (to an extent that it is almost tedious) while addressing issues of poverty, child abuse, and the foibles of memory. Verdict This book will appeal to a wide range of fiction readers, especially those who enjoy coming-of-age stories. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.