Kill your darlings /
Terence Blacker.
London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000.
292 p. ; 25 cm.
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London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000.
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Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-11-01:
Once hailed as one of England's most exciting young new writers, Gregory Keays now struggles vainly in middle age to match his earlier success. Though trapped in a severe and lengthy slump, he manages to keep up an authorial pretense by teaching creative writing, working as a journalist for a literary periodical, and researching a "book of lists" about writers. Gregory, however, cannot nurture the blessings in his life, which include a lovely wife and son, both of whom he alienates. Believing the self-serving myth that a writer's actions, however immoral, feed and are therefore redeemed by the excellence of the art, Gregory absolves himself from any guilt associated with his marital infidelities, which include affairs with students and visits to brothels. After one of his gifted young students commits suicide, Gregory appropriates his work and comes back with a smashing new novel; then things really begin to unravel. Blacker, known for his children's books and the author of a few adult novels as well (e.g., The Fame Hotel), delves more deeply and convincingly into the pit of narcissism, mayhem, and soul-destroying Faustian bargains than does Kurt Wenzel in Lit Life (LJ 8/01) or John Colapinto in About the Author (LJ 8/01). Highly recommended for all fiction collections. Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-10-15:
One can't help wondering what Martin Amis thought of this dark and delightfully biting novel when it was published in England last year. Amis is the b?te noire of Gregory Keays, the serenely unreliable narrator who keeps harking back to 1983, when he and Amis were both included in Granta's list of Best of the Young British Novelists. Now Amis is famous while Keays is teaching at a mediocre institute in West London, attempting to work on a new novel, unable to talk to his teenage son, certain that his wife is having an affair and totally blind to his own failings as a husband, a father and a writer. After Keays's nonchalant reaction to an impulsive tryst with his most talented student, Peter Gibson, ends in tragedy, Keays can see only opportunity: Gibson had completed a novel, the manuscript of which Keays is going to finish and publish under his own name. That's when the reader finally wakes up to the fact that Keays, while clever and mordantly funny, is so inhuman that the novel becomes a wonderfully creepy examination of the unreliable narrator convention. It's refreshing to see an author take a potentially slick concept and use it to open up the kind of dark places in the human heart that Keays criticizes Amis for never exploring, especially since those are places that Keays wouldn't know the first thing about exploring in himself. Further entertaining the reader with footnotes and Keay's memos to himself, Blacker captures perfectly the writing style of someone who walks the tightrope between "Look at what I just wrote!" and "Look at me; I wrote that!" Blacker should take a bow on both counts. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Washington Post, December 2001
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Unpaid Annotation
How far will a writer go to achieve success? Lie, of course. But steal? Murder? Terence Blacker's compelling, impassioned & edgily funny new novel explores the fate of Gregory Keays, a writer whose brilliant future is behind him. Gregory is reduced to watching his contemporaries produce better work & lead happier lives. When a brilliant student enters his live, Gregory is offered one last, glorious chance to save his career. But his Faustian pact with success takes him further than any writer should go.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Gregory Keays is a writer who cannot live up to the promise of his first novel. When a student in his creative writing class commits suicide, Gregory steals his work and passes it off as his own.

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