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About The Book

A New York Times Editors’ Choice
Named a Best New Book of the Year by Harper’s Bazaar
Named a Best Book of the Summer by Shondaland, SheReads, The Boston Globe, Harper’s Bazaar, and Reader’s Digest

From an acclaimed senior editor at Vanity Fair comes a “laudable” (The New York Times) debut novel about a young journalist who discovers a short story that’s inexplicably about her life—leading to an entanglement with the author’s widow, daughter, and former best friend.

Sal Cannon’s life is in shambles. Her relationship is crumbling, and her career in journalism hits a low point after it’s revealed that her profile of a playwright is full of inaccuracies. She’s close to rock-bottom when she reads a short story by Martin Keller: a much older author she met at a literary event years ago. Much to her shock, the story is about her and the moment they met. When Sal learns the story is excerpted from his unpublished novel, she reaches out to the story’s editor—only to learn that Martin is deceased. Desperate to leave her crumbling life behind and to read the manuscript from which the story was excerpted, Sal decides to find Martin’s widow, Moira.

Moira has made it clear that she doesn’t want to be contacted. But soon Sal is on a bus to upstate New York, where she slowly but surely inserts herself into Moira’s life. Or is it the other way around? As Sal sifts through Martin’s papers and learns more about Moira, the question of muse and artist arises—again and again. Even more so when Martin’s daughter’s story emerges. Who owns a story? And who is the one left to tell it?

The Mythmakers is a nesting doll of a book that grapples with perspective and memory, as well as the batteries between creative ambition and love. It’s a “page-turner” (theSkimm) about the trials and tribulations of finding out who you are, at any stage in your life, and how inspiration might find you in the strangest of places.

Reading Group Guide


In The Mythmakers, a young journalist living in Brooklyn discovers that a posthumously published short story is based on the brief encounter she had with the story’s older author at a party. Desperate to leave her crumbling life behind after getting fired from her journalist job and fighting with her boyfriend, she decides to find the late author’s widow—leading to an entanglement with the family and friends the author left behind.

The Mythmakers, a layered book full of shifting perspectives and commentary on truth and betrayal, is a story about finding oneself and how inspiration strikes in the most unlikely of places.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Sal says, “Biography is important. . . . The translation of life into art” (p. 50). Think about the role of a biographer and the role of a journalist. When translating the subject’s life into art, must the biographer and journalist be wholly respectful of their subject, even at the risk of sacrificing the truth?

2. Sal embarks on the quest to find the rest of the manuscript after reading a short story she thinks Martin Keller wrote about her. Portrayed in a flattering light, the woman in the story is described as the author’s “Dark Lady of the Sonnets.” Imagine he portrayed Sal negatively, depicting her ambitiousness as greedy opportunism, her wisdom as arrogance. Do you think Sal would still take the trip to find the rest of the manuscript?

3. Before Sal and Hugh fight during the party, Sal wants to tell him “[he] sold out” (p. 26). During the fight, Sal blows up at Hugh, telling him he’s “not who [she] signed up for.” Think about the first moment, when Sal wanted to tell Hugh how she felt and instead bottled it in. Do you think she was right to keep that comment to herself? Did her staying silent cause her to blow up at Hugh later?

4. The Mythmakers is narrated with a shifting point of view, moving from Sal’s first-person POV to other characters’ close third-person perspective. How does this influence the narrative drive of the story? Do you feel closer to any character because of these shifting POVs?

5. There are multiple references to fate in the book, including Moira’s thought that “each moment was predestined.” What are some instances of fate in the book? How does thinking about the characters’ meeting as fate influence their stories? Do they have more, or less, agency over their choices?

6. As a young woman working at NASA, Moira is sexually harassed by a colleague. How does this influence the trajectory of her career and passions? If this happened today, do you think the outcome would be the same?

7. Imagine that Sal didn’t find Martin’s short story and go visit his widow. What would her life look like without meeting Moira and remaining at home with Hugh? Would she have followed Hugh’s path and “sold out” too?

8. When Sal reaches out to Martin and Moira’s daughter, Caroline, to get more information about Martin’s life, Caroline tells Sal that she thinks what she is doing is predatory (p. 130). Do you think the journalist’s job is inherently predatory or exploitative? Is the journalist more accountable to the public or to their subject?

9. Think of the shifting perspectives of Sal, Moira, and Martin. Would you add or take away any perspective? How would the story change with the introduction of Hugh’s perspective?

10. When Caroline proposes going to California so that she can have a better shot at fulfilling her dream, her girlfriend Julie tries to convince her to stay. Julie tells Caroline that she’s “no good at auditions” but also calls her a “beautiful musician.” Compare Caroline’s life to that of her mother’s. Do you recognize similarities in how others talked them into or out of pursuing their dreams?

11. The Mythmakers sparks conversation regarding perspective and memory. With memory, one can choose to memorialize the dead and respect their legacy. Does Martin’s family respect his legacy? Does respecting someone’s legacy mean telling the truth, in all its complicated forms, in order to paint a nuanced portrait of a person?

12. In the epilogue, Sal mentions that the Playwright’s whereabouts are currently unknown, but that “he is probably doing just fine” (p. 347). Do you agree? Why do you think the Playwright went through so many great lengths to fabricate so much about his life? Why do you think Sal thinks he’s doing just fine?

13. Think about the role of secrets in the book and secrets in life generally. Many people, including many characters in the story, have an inner life that may contradict the persona that they portray to the outside world. At what point do secrets that people keep about themselves—secrets that are not yet actions, but simply thoughts—become lies? How much truth do we owe another person?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Write a short story about a person in your book club!

2. There are references to various authors and books that have influenced the writers in this story. Pick one of those books for your next book club pick! Some ideas include: The Wife by Meg Wolitzer or Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

3. The summer Sal and Georgia moved to Brooklyn, the Neue Galerie “was a frequent haunt” for them. Visit the gallery known for its German and Austrian art from the early twentieth century! Find more information at

4. Keziah Weir is a senior editor at Vanity Fair. Check out her work at

About The Author

Photograph by Jacob Weir

Keziah Weir is a senior editor at Vanity Fair. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesElleEsquire, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She grew up in California and British Columbia, and currently lives in Maine with her husband and dog.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (June 13, 2023)
  • Runtime: 12 hours and 45 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797158433

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