JIm Freed
The Illiterate -  a novel


Just when everything is finally going right for Jones, a 30-year-old writer living in New York City, one day he mysteriously wakes up unable to read.

After discovering his illiteracy Jones consults a number of doctors and friends, but nobody knows what’s wrong with him. With each day that passes Jones grows more paranoid and confused. Left with no one else to turn to, Jones sets out into New York City to find answers on an adventure that pulls him deeper and deeper into a strange surreal world populated by other “illiterates” with similar afflictions that while disorienting is at once increasingly familiar.

At the end of The Illiterate all we are left with is a parable about a man who inexplicably loses everything — for Jones, the absurd comedy that ensues after he wakes up one morning unable to read.


It's the spring of 2003 in New York City and artists have started getting arrested.

The first is Silva, a poet who kills his girlfriend and uses her blood to write verse on the walls of his apartment. The second is Smeed, an installation artist who is suspected of trying to procure blood for an upcoming gallery show.

No one in the artistic community of the city can stop talking about these arrests, but Eleanor, a young visual artist, thinks these occurrences are a sign of bad tidings to come and feels oddly certain that the sanctuary she had once found in the New York City art scene will soon come to an end.

This is right around the time when Bishop, a determined young writer with a murky past, appears on the scene. Eleanor meets him one night after he gets thrown out of a party. She's not sure why, but feels compelled to take him under her wing as he tries to make a name for himself. 

Eventually Bishop connects with LEAD, an art collective formed by Robert A. Hoffman as a result of the community's interest in the artist arrests, and emerges as the collective's biggest star when he reads his story The Unfulfilled to a packed house at the LEAD gallery.

But then just as the movement is achieving recognition, it's foundation is shaken when a video tape emerges that proves Silva is a fraud and triggers his subsequent release from a mental institution.

Eleanor and Bishop set out into the city to try and find Silva in an effort to get to the bottom of everything. But with every fact they learn, more and more lies come out that ultimately turn the city and this new art movement upside down.   

At the end of The Unfulfilled all we are left with is the homage Eleanor has been trying to compose for Bishop since the beginning of the novel, which will be forever incomplete as she comes to the realization that the art world and New York and even Bishop, are just as corrupt as everything else.     

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