KILL YOUR DARLINGS

Terence Blacker, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-312-28329-2

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 bête 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.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 12/01/2001
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FORMATS
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-312-30283-2
Hardcover - 292 pages - 978-0-297-64658-7
Hardcover - 292 pages - 978-0-7538-1272-3
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