I haven't reviewed anything for ages but that doesn't mean I've stopped reading. Life just took over and swamped me. But here I am again and here's some of what I've read lately. First up, Jesse Kellerman's latest novel, I'll Catch You. Well. I've long admired Kellerman junior, both of whose parents are distinguished crime writers, and in fact I think his books are even better than theirs. But anyone who starts this one expecting it to be like the earlier ones is in for a surprise. "This novel is, in a word, dreadful", writes one bemused blogger, who shall remain nameless. It's not, though, not at all.
This is the story of Arthur Pfefferkorn, who teaches creative writing at a small college on the east coast of America. This is quite ironic, really, as Arthur himself is a failed novelist -- his one published work, a semi-autobiographical literary novel called Shade of the Colossus, sank without trace many years ago, and he has never succeeded in writing anything else. His college friend Bill, however, whose literary abilities appeared to be pretty well zero, has become a hugely successful thriller writer, much to Arthur's chagrin. As the novel begins, however, he is reading in the paper that Bill is missing, presumed drowned, after an accident at sea. He rather unwillingly decides to go to the funeral, where he meets Bill's widow Carlotta, and soon, much to his surprise and delight, finds himself in bed with her. Carlotta has shown him Bill's writing room, and on the desk is Bill's last work, an incomplete manuscript. Before he leaves, Arthur manages to steal it, and soon, with its help, he too is a massively successful writer and making huge sums of money. But then he makes a terrifying discovery, and his life takes a most unexpected and frightening turn...
Really, this novel is a satire on the world of blockbusting thrillers, with many bizarre twists and turns into the bargain, but it also considers literary pretensions, literary success and its effects, friendship, parenthood, and more besides. Jesse Kellerman writes with great wit and intelligence and I loved the way he expresses some of the simplest things, such as Arthur's first impressions of Carlotta's magnificent Californian villa: A mosaic fountain burbled. Cut flowers stood erect in vases. A chess set awaited players. Chairs awaited buttocks. Portraits smiled, landscapes sprawled, statuary thrust.
I see on Amazon that this novel has defeated most readers, and perhaps you would be one of them. But for me, though I admit to finding the central section a little too long, this was a really enjoyable and entertaining read. Recommended, but only to those who are willing to suspend disbelief and let themselves have a bit of fun.