THE SERIALIST by David Gordon
āYes, I admit I was a poet once. No, I wasnāt much good. Iām not claiming to be some thwarted, tragic genius. This isnāt that kind of story. The fact is, like many a socially awkward man-child, good with words but bad with people, I broke out in poetry, like acne, somewhere in preadolescence, and by the time I met Jane, versifying had already become one of those vestigial gifts, like card tricks or making crepes, that we trot out only on request.ā
Review by Maggie Hill (APR 5, 2010)
This is a quick-witted, rhythmically-moving, false-positive of a novel ā pick it up, put it down, pick it upā¦..you wonāt get lost. See, the author ātalksā to you (the reader) through the whole story. Actually, the author is basically sitting on the sofa with you, reaching over to turn the page. Itās kind of flattering, really. He doesnāt want you to miss anything.
The story is about a writer who makes a buck. How do writers make a buck? (Hey, not by reviewing books. Trust me.) See the way I just wrote that? Thatās how the author talks throughout The Serialist. But hereās the bonus: this guy is really funny. He can tell a story, boy-o. And tell them, he does. He tells them and talks to you at the same time. Which sounds annoying, and is sometimes. Mostly, itās clever and smirky, and a couple of times, pretty freakinā funny.
Harry Bloch is a self-professed hack. Heās a ghostwriter of the lowest kind. Heās got a facility with putting enough words down to create a story and he cashes in on it. The reader will get snippets from his sci-fi, detective, mystery, porn writing, all of which support the claim that the guy can put together words. He writes for rent, not love.
In a funny bit, and also the introduction to the cool character, Claire, Harry takes on a job of ghostwriting rich kidsā high school term papers. How low can you go, right? As Claire, the precociously conniving, world-weary teenager sums it up about Harry:
āYouāre already scarred for life. You were a porn editor. You ghostwrite term papers for high school kids. You dress up like your dead mother and write soft-core S&M vampire books and meanwhile you havenāt had a real, human girlfriend in how long?ā
Then, a real killer, someone about to be executed for really bad serial killer stuff, contacts Harry with an idea about writing his story ā for a weird contractual bargain. Here is where the book takes off. There is a fairly complicated plot involving the serial killer, the victimsā relatives and loved ones, lawyers, backstory, the FBI, forward-story, and most acutely, the victims. Now itās not so funny anymore. Now, Harry (and his readers, us) feel a constant motion sickness ā like the kind where you think you might be getting sick to your stomach soon, so youāre careful how quickly you stand up from your chair.
Harry, the poor guy, is caught on the primetime series Criminal Minds, when he would much prefer, in his heart of hearts, to be writing Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky, heās not. He can talk “writer” with the best of them ā āā¦in its tropes and myths, genre fiction is close to myths, or what the myths and classics once wereā¦..Reduced to their essence, boiled down, the turns and returns of genre unfold like dreams, like the dreams that we all share and trade with one another and that, clumsy and unrealistic as they are, point us toward the truth.ā Harry thinks this, then sits down to write the ending to his current soft porn, sci-fi thriller titled Whither Thou Goest, O Slutship Commander.
Actually, you can picture the real author (David Gordon, who deserves his name out there) coming up with this premise and cracking himself up as he orders his mocha-mocha-lite-no-whip frappuccino in Starbucks. But hey, come on. He followed through, put all the pieces together, wrote the book. He wins. As Harry Bloch says, āEvery work of literature is a great victory over oneself and a small act of resistance against the world.ā
Donāt resist The Serialist. Itās a hoot. Enjoy.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 16 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Simon & Schuster; Original edition (March 9, 2010)|
|AMAZON PAGE:||The Serialist|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||David Gordon|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Another humorous take the writer’s life:
The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
- The Serialist (March 2010)