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The Serialist by David Gordon
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The Serialist

by David Gordon

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My first David Gordon.

This one slipped through the cracks when it came out.

Making evaluations on just one book it's always risky, but I'd say David Gordon's got the touch.

"The Serialist" is not completely successful. Some flaws abound, namely not making the story internally consistent, ie, the game David Gordon sells is crooked in terms of giving me (in)sufficient clues in the story itself to lead me to the answers. David Gordon was also able to go beyond the Crime Fiction genre by using a very distinct and original voice through which he tells the story.


You can find the rest of this review on my blog. ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
I enjoyed its outrageousness. This is the kind of book you can write because you have nothing to lose so you can do as you like. I read it because of this article. I can see the Japanese quality, or maybe I can't but only think I can. ( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
I enjoyed the first part of the book - the relationship between Harry and Claire, his alternative identity as his nom de plume - but the rest of the book I found much too viloent and dark. I ended up skipping most of it. I'm giving 2.5 stars because I enjoyed the beginning so much. ( )
  Aula | Aug 16, 2014 |
Here’s something I haven’t done before: read two books by the same author one after another. I’d never heard of David Gordon until I came across a very funny essay by him in the NY Times Magazine one Sunday this January. In the essay he explains that his debut novel was mostly ignored in the U.S. but was widely admired in Japan, where he won three literary prizes and sold the film rights. Gordon, bewildered and mute in a country where he didn't speak the language, was hosted in Tokyo when the film came out and ushered about by adoring fans.

Gordon’s main character, Harry Bloch, is the quintessential hack writer: he did his research into what kind of fiction is selling at the bookstore chains and decided to incorporate those elements in writing he did for different publications. Vampires and werewolves. Serial Killers. True Crime. Mystery. Urban. Soft Porn. Whatever. He’s got it all going, with ideas to spare. He even created new names and faces (!) for each authorial persona.

Harry Bloch is contacted by a serial killer, Darian, to be the ghost writer of his story before Darian is executed. Bloch acquires a teenaged “agent” and, after meeting some of the relatives of the murdered victims of his serial killer, acquires a friend and lover called Dani.

Interspersed throughout this story of the process of ghost-writing are examples of some of the work Bloch had been doing to keep food on the table. It is here we encounter vampires and soft-porn, keeping readers laughing and awake to the author’s next move. Bloch also addresses the reader directly, making them complicit in his writing: He suggests that he is trying to “establish the intimacy of first-person voice, so you’ll follow me anywhere,” and “I don’t know about you, but I hate coming to the end of a mystery.” Throughout the novel he prods us: we readers “should have figured it out by now” because he “gave us enough clues.”
Well, Gordon’s novel succeeded in this: the clues, the shifting identities, and incredibly detailed knowledge of the murders led to me suspect David Gordon/Harry Bloch, our erstwhile first-person narrator, is a serial killer while he claims to be ghostwriting for someone else.

Gordon/Bloch shows us his versatility, his charade, his cover and then led us with these asides, quite willingly, to a most grisly final couple of chapters about the reality of crime and its depravity. He wipes the smile off our mugs. I almost can’t forgive him for that. It seems unfair, somehow. We give our attention and faith to a novelist, not expecting that they will blindside us with the gruesome possibility of truth.
Spoiler



In the final pages, Gordon/Bloch gives us some of his philosophy about writing and life, which is: it’s not the beginning or the end of a novel (or life) that is most difficult. It is the middle. And I guess that flies in the face of most author interviews I have read, but it may be true in the case of real life. We’ll see.

Gordon reminds me a little of Jess Walter, endlessly inventive, determined to appeal, and laughing with (at?) us the same time. And he is really funny. But Gordon has an edge that bleeds.

I had to read Gordon’s second novel, Mystery Girl to see if Gordon betrays my confidence as he did in The Serialist, and if his sense of humor still keeps me rapt. Review here.
( )
  bowedbookshelf | Mar 8, 2014 |
I found The Serialist to be an amazing book. My problem is how to make it sound as amazing here as it was to read. Written by David Gordon this first book covers so much material that it is hard to slot into any one genre. It is a thriller, a mystery, a pop culture homage to books and writers. Irreverent, different, humorous and addictive, I would be laughing out loud one minute then, turning the page and shuddering with horror and revulsion the next.

The plot revolves around Harry Bloch a writer that has almost given up trying to produce anything even resembling the Great American Novel. Instead he is a master of turning out pulp fiction: vampire stories, detective stories, light pornography, and sci-fi series, all produced under different pseudonyms. He accepts a contract to ghost-write a convicted serial killer’s memoirs, but soon bodies begin turning up, all killed in the serial killer’s style.

Other than a slight lagging in the middle of the book, this was a fast paced, excellently presented story that grabbed me from the first sentence and kept me glued to it’s pages until the end. The author actually uses clichés to his advantage, poking fun at writing and writing styles, all the while advancing his plot. A fun read and a great introduction to an author that I will always have room on my shelves for. I can’t wait to see what he produces next. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jun 21, 2011 |
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Harry Bloch is a struggling writer who pumps out pulpy serial novels, from vampire books to detective stories, under various pseudonyms. But his life begins to imitate his fiction when he agrees to ghostwrite the memoir of Darian Clay, New York City's infamous Photo Killer. Soon, three young women turn up dead, each one murdered in the Photo Killer's gruesome signature style, and Harry must play detective in a real-life murder plot as he struggles to avoid becoming the killer's next victim.… (more)

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