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by Elise Blackwell

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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.  See more details below


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.

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
With her third novel in four years, "Grub," Elise Blackwell moves into the front rank of American satirists. Author of "Hunger," a startling portrait of the siege of Leningrad, and "The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish," a haunting allegory of Hurricane Katrina, Blackwell expands her range with "Grub," an uproarious lampoon of the American drive for success.

An updating of George Gissing's Zola-esque novel "New Grub Street," "Grub," on its surface, is a story about writers, but Blackwell's triumph is that her novel works as a metaphorical drama of the American ethos itself. We require only the rhythm of our own dreams, and no special knowledge of the publishing industry, to fantasize receiving the phone call that comes halfway through the book: "Don't say anything, just listen to these words: Six figures." This is a piquant read for anyone who's ever nursed a career passion, a Wednesday hangover or the desire to nudge a feckless competitor into oncoming traffic.
—Michael Leone

The Islamorada Free Press
Grub is a mordantly witty, thoroughly stimulating absolutely wonderful, satire of the New York literary world and of the price of being a literary success in America. It is a modern take on a Victorian novel New Grub Street a tale of literary hacks in Sherlock Holmes London.
—Joel Carmel
Armchair Interviews
Grub is the ultimate insider's view of literary and publishing world, for all its up and downs. If you want to know what it's like to be a writer, Grub will give you the closest answer available without having to experience it.
—Julie Failla Earhart
Times Literary Supplement
Elise Blackwell's sharp and fluent Grub ... offers an unvarnished study of the writer's lot.

Publishers Weekly

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 Parishand 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.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Jackson Miller, erudite spawn of the Iowa MFA writing program, is dangerously close to making a fool of himself at the Blue Ridge Writers' Conference in full view of fellow novelists and friends Eddie and Amanda Renfros (Jackson's former girlfriend) and influential editor Andrew Yarborough. The events that follow cover the next five years in the turbulent, wordy lives of these characters and their circle, which includes writers, editors, and hangers-on in and around New York City. The pressures of and on 21st-century literary creativity-the lure of celebrity (even pseudonymous fame), constant monitoring of sales rankings, and jockeying for editorial mention-are portrayed with biting and often gleefully hilarious truth. With finely written characters, some pompously urbane and others naive, like Andrew's budding novelist daughter, Margot, or Henry Baffler, the appropriately named "experimental" wordsmith, Blackwell's (The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish) 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. Recommended for all public library fiction collections and for those academic fiction collections that support MFA programs.
—Jenn B. Stidham

Kirkus Reviews
Blackwell's third novel (The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, 2007, etc.) is a fizzy contemporary-Manhattan retelling of New Grub Street, George Gissing's 1891 jeremiad about the London literary marketplace. The main characters-writers all, at various stages of career and possessing varying ambitions-are Jackson Miller, a sly, handsome Machiavellian type; smart but stolid Eddie Renfros, who despite critical laurels for his first book can find no publisher for his second; his wife, shrewd and lovely Amanda, herself a talented writer and one with an opportunistic streak; the ascetic experimentalist Henry Baffler, who wears his devotion to pure art like an ermine cape, and meanwhile lives in filth; Margot Yarborough, likable daughter of a dissolute literary lion. They are beset by grandiose fantasies of fame, vexed by jealousy of peers, nagged by integrities the publishing world has little use for. Literary New York is a pit of vipers (drunken vipers, mostly). We watch as the characters' naivete and misty-eyed hopes are battered out of them. Gissing's novel is the jumping-off place, but Blackwell disdains her model's preachy earnestness (in this book, "Grub" becomes a downtown eatery the writers frequent) and augments her predecessor's indictment of the marketplace with light satire and frothy romance; the book reads as a soap opera, even at times a roman a clef. Gossipy, with insider elements that may limit its audience to aspiring writers-but a quick-paced, amusing novel.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Joe Queenan
"In this deliciously mordant send-up of the publishing world, Elise Blackwell conjures up a universe filled with talentless novelists, reptilian publishers, unprincipled agents and brain-dead critics. Thank God this is only a fantasy. Thank God any similarity to real life is entirely fortuitous."

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Grub 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
easyreeder More than 1 year ago
stimulating satire.