Death of a Writer: A Novel

Death of a Writer: A Novel

3.7 15
by Michael Collins
     
 

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For E. Robert Pendleton, a professor clinging to tenure and living in the shambles of his once-bright literary career, death seems to be the only remaining option. But his suicide attempt fails, and during his long convalescence, a novel is discovered hidden in his basement: a brilliant, semi-autobiographical story with a gruesome child murder at its core.
The

Overview

For E. Robert Pendleton, a professor clinging to tenure and living in the shambles of his once-bright literary career, death seems to be the only remaining option. But his suicide attempt fails, and during his long convalescence, a novel is discovered hidden in his basement: a brilliant, semi-autobiographical story with a gruesome child murder at its core.
The publication of Scream causes a storm of publicity and raises questions about its content-in particular, about the uncanny resemblance between Pendletons fictional crime and a real-life, unresolved local murder. How did Pendleton know the case so well? And why did he bury Scream in his basement? A rare blend of suspense, humor and insight, Death of a Writer is "dark, disturbing and damnably good" (Baltimore Sun).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596917477
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/12/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
588,723
File size:
733 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Collins is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories. His work has garnered numerous awards, including a Pushcart Award for Best American Short Story and The Kerry Ingredients Irish Novel of the Year. His novel The Keepers of Truth was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the IMPAC Award. He lives in Washington.
Michael Collins is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories. His work has garnered numerous awards, including a Pushcart Award for Best American Short Story and The Kerry Ingredients Irish Novel of the Year. His novel The Keepers of Truth was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the IMPAC Award. He lives in Bellingham, Washington.

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Death of a Writer 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking, intense , well written book. Complex characters and story. Bought this on sale and is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Found another favorite author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book fascinating and disturbing, and the writing is superb. I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this remarkable novel. The other reviewers have hinted at the complexity of the story and the characters as well as the humor and the scathing perspective on academic life, literary criticism and deconstruction. All of this makes the book sound rather pedantic, but it's a psychological thriller of the first order, even though it won't scare you in quite the same way a Stephen King novel might. This story is scary in a much deeper, more real sense. Stop reading these reviews and get started on this book!
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Booker Prize nominee Michael Collins brilliantly combines a psychological study, the literary world, and mounting suspense in his latest novel Death Of A Writer. Collins's satirical take on academia is priceless, while his understanding portrait of the tragic compelling. More than a story this novel is also a telling picture of the lives of many today. Part I introduces E. Robert Pendleton, acclaimed author of Winterland. He was hailed, called a literary rising star but that was ten years ago and the well quickly ran dry. 'His latest work had been rejected by every major house in New York.' Thus, he is reduced to teaching, becoming a professor at Bonnockburn College, a small Midwestern university or, as he puts it a 'venerable cradle of mediocrity.' Yearning for the success that escaped him he drinks too much and hangs onto tenure for dear life. He has been asked to bring a known writer to the campus for the Distinguished Lecture Series. He does so, but schedules the event, an academic one, for Homecoming Weekend, the worst time possible to gather an audience. The Chair of the English Department calls the choice of the date a 'setup' for failure. Actually, the date conflict was not enough - he has invited Allen Horowitz, an author who had once shared the limelight with Pendleton as a rising star. But while Horowitz's career had skyrocketed, Pendleton's had died. He is so obsessed by Horowitz that he even keeps a spreadsheet of all of his reviews. Disgruntled, depressed, Pendleton invites Adi, a voluptuous seven year grad student, to accompany him to the airport to pick up Horowitz. He is briefly revitalized when she tells him that she is reading his book, Winterland. That victory is short lived when Horowitz quickly captures her attention. Pendleton decides there is only one option - he will take his own life. He hurriedly writes a will, leaving all to Adi and begins to kill himself. Despite quantities of pills and vodka he is unsuccessful but the attempt has left him in a comatose state and later relegated to a wheelchair. Adi has come by his house to check on him. She is the one who saves him from death to a living death. While he is in the hospital a novel, 'Scream' is found hidden in his basement. It is an incredibly fine story of a child murder. Adi and Horowitz decide to have it published. It is received with all the public and professional approbation that Pendleton sought. However, he is not in any condition to enjoy his success. Further, the murder at the center of the story bears an uncanny resemblance to the actual unsolved murder of a young girl, Amber Jewel. Part 2, titled 'The Investigation' introduces Jon Ryder, an experienced cold case cop who knows how to ferret out the truth no matter how long it has been hidden. He has the copy of a cassette mailed anonymously that brought to light the parallels in the deaths of Amber and a fictional victim. The taped voice ends with a question asking how the author, Pendleton, 'had gotten so precisely the details between the two victims, given that Scream had been originally published before the April 1977 discovery of the true-life victim's body?' Michael Collins proves once again that he is, indeed, a major talent. Five stars and a standing ovation for Death Of A Writer. - Gail Cooke
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TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Great book. Thought provoking and intelligent. Great use of modern poetry for emphasis. Beyond a complex murder mystery lies an interesting satire of the literary world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so much more than an entertaining mystery. It actually has some real depth and is so well-written that I was sorry to come to the end. I recommended this to a well-read friend and she loves it. I can't wait for her to finish it so we can discuss it. Usually I finish books VERY quickly - even lengthy ones (1000+ page books), but I found myself savoring this book slowly, not wanting to miss a single detail. Additionally, I enjoyed Mr. Collins' writing style more than almost any other author's since John Irving (my favorite). Mr. Collins perfectly captures the intangible feel of a small, liberal arts college, too. If you are looking for a quick, easy mystery, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for something more substantial, yet still highly engaging, you will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved Michael Collins' Lost Souls, and was looking forward to more of the same with this novel. There are some similarities - the midwestern setting, the flawed characters - but it's hard to like the people on these pages. From the self-absorbed perennial grad student to the egomaniac of a nationally-known author, most characters become a bit tiresome. There is endless talkiness about the nature of literature, existentialism, higher education, etc. I kept wanting to come up for air! Mr. Collins does beautifully evoke natural settings, in particular a midwestern winter and, toward the end, the lush raininess of Washington state. But otherwise I was glad to leave this dreary cast of characters behind when I finished the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Like pie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy-Universe More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be totally devoid of orgininality. Not only that, but I found the author's vocabulary to be stale and repetitive. His characters were carbon copies of eachother; they lacked depth, emotion and growth. If want to read about self-centered nihilistic imbeciles with limited emotion and vocabulary I will read the political section of the newspaper. I mourn for the trees that gave up their lives to become this dissapointing book, I also mourn for the time I wasted reading this when I could have been doing something less painful and more interesting; perhaps washing my face with a cheese grater or jumping off of a tall building with out a parachute.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've read all year! My all time favorite mystery was Tami Hoag, Night Sins (2 books), but this goes right up there on the bookshelf with her. I almost stopped reading after about 70 pages because those pages are devoted to college academia, the self pitying professor, and his relations with the rest of the staff, kind of the pompous,self indulgent behavior you expect from most college staff. But then BAM, it takes off and goes where you don't expect. This is not the light mystery. The dialogue is believeable, there is not an unnecessary sentence, or word. The characters are completely believeable, there is no contrived,banal dialouge. There is not unnecessary boring side story, it is not written with the question format so many are today....why would John kill Martin, she wondered? Could it be John didn't like Martin?. This author believes you are smart enough to ask yourself those questions without having his charaters muse them to get you thinking. And the bad guy...he is so disturbing in his normalacy and enjoyment of the game. I'll now look for more books from this author. I read this in one day, had to see how it was going to end, and you will never see it coming. Like I said, not your everyday murder mystery.