A book editor confronts the darkness of his past in Goldberg’s (Slow Down, 2015) psychological thriller, a savvy parody in the vein of American Psycho.
Kyle Broder’s life looks golden: he’s got a beautiful, successful, and undemanding girlfriend; and, as an untested editor at a big publishing firm, he's just discovered a young writer and nabbed her a huge advance on her raw first novel. When his former creative writing professor and mentor, William Lansing, contacts him to offer congratulations, Kyle is happy to invite William to dinner at his upscale apartment and introduce him to Jamie, the perfect girlfriend—who is also a phenomenal cook. Over dinner and vast quantities of good red wine, William asks Kyle for a favor: would Kyle be willing to read the novel he’s been working on for 10 years and maybe put in a good word for him at the publishing house? Kyle enthusiastically agrees, but when he begins to read through William’s novel, Devil’s Hopyard, he’s shocked and horrified to discover that it’s not only badly written, but that it’s rife with pornographic violence and cannibalism. As William becomes more and more insistent that Kyle help him publish his “masterpiece” and begins stalking both Jamie and Kyle, Kyle finds that William has even written him into the novel as a possible villain. Desperate to save his relationship, his reputation, and his life, he must confront William’s madness—and try to keep this novel off the shelf. Goldberg’s novel is not particularly well-written, but it is gripping. Like the Bret Easton Ellis novel it resembles, it succeeds as sharp and bitter satire—in this case, of the publishing industry and the sensationalism and barbarity that consumers crave.
As often happens in satire, the characters quickly become caricatures, but the deeper implications about our society’s obsession with violence are resonant and disturbing.