Synopses & Reviews
A long overdue retelling of New Grub Street
George Gissing's classic satire of the Victorian literary marketplace Grub
chronicles the triumphs and humiliations of a group of young novelists living in and around New York City.
Eddie Renfros, on the brink of failure after his critically acclaimed first book, wants only to publish another novel and hang on to his beautiful wife, Amanda, who has her own literary ambitions and a bit of a roving eye. Among their circle are writers of every stripe from the Machiavellian Jackson Miller to the "experimental writer" Henry who lives in squalor while seeking the perfect sentence. Amid an assortment of scheming agents, editors, and hangers-on, each writer must negotiate the often competing demands of success and integrity, all while grappling with inner demons and the stabs of professional and personal jealousy. The question that nags at them is this: What is it to write a novel in the twenty-first century?
Pointedly funny and compassionate, Grub reveals what the publishing industry does to writers and what writers do to themselves for the sake of art and to each other in the pursuit of celebrity.
"'Three no-longer-so-young 'irony boys' and their put-upon wives and girlfriends write, drink, pace the streets of contemporary New York City and occasionally manage to publish a novel or two in this biting remake of George Gissing's 1891 novel New Grub Street. Writer Jackson Miller is willing to give the masses what they want, so long as his star rises. Eddie Renfros, his best friend, is dejected, determined to hold onto both his literary ideals and his increasingly wandering wife, Amanda, who, like Jackson, is bent on worldly success. Henry Baffler is an ascetic devoted only to his craft; and Margot Yarborough is the stern, self-reliant daughter of an aging, cruel literary critic, painstakingly making her way through a novel about lepers in Louisiana. By novel's end, Amanda, Margot and Jackson are all treated to a meal (or several) at Grub, the restaurant favored by the literary elite they long to join, but the costs are many. The author of The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish and Hunger, Blackwell offers a sharp take on the market-driven foibles of fiction and publishing. The milieu is familiar; the characters' grasping behaviors blur and strain credibility. Caricature, however, is the point here: Blackwell nails the contemporary forms taken by some very old ambitions. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Blackwell's...loose adaptation of George Gissing's New Grub Street (1891) is an entertaining exposition of the grind and toil of most day-to-day writing careers, with the faintest glimmer of the hope of finding success without having to sell out always just within reach." Library Journal
About the Author
Elise Blackwell is the author of The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish and Hunger, chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best books of 2003. Her stories have appeared in Witness, Seed, Global City Review, Topic, and elsewhere. Originally from southern Louisiana, she teaches at the University of South Carolina