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3.31  ·  Rating details ·  282 ratings  ·  53 reviews
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.

Eddie Renfros, on the brink of failure after his critically acclaimed first book, wants only to publish another novel and hang on to his beautiful

Paperback, 356 pages
Published 2007 by The Toby Press LLC
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3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  282 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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May 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Natalie by: I think I saw it in some magazine. That'll learn me...
I read this book quickly, just because I wanted to be done with it. The fact that it has an average rating of 3.4 stars is suprising to me. True, it is meant to be "ironic" and a "satire", unfortunately, it was often hard for me to tell what was intentionally bad writing and what was just bad writing. The characters weren't compelling--I liked none of them and was really hoping at least one of them would get what was coming to him/her in the end (and that wasn't a happy marriage, a Pulitzer, or ...more
Dec 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: frustrated novelists
I grabbed this book before heading out of town on a business trip and I soon found myself forgoing sleep in order to read more. I can't tell you why I liked it so much, I guess I just wanted to see what happened to all of the characters.

It's a story of several writers and what they're willing to do for literary success. It doesn't sound too exciting, but it actually turns out to be a pretty fun book.
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, aspiring writers, reviewers, mfa students/graduates, anyone in the book industry
Shelves: alive
as advertise, this is a retelling of Gessing's New Grub Street. it's fun and will hit home for anyone who writes. It tracks five young writers in NYC as they navigate the contemporary publishing world. They struggle with whether or not to sell-out (maybe), whether or not to leave your struggling spouse for a more successful writer (you bet!), with the hierarchical and petty world of journals, of 'writing' conferences, the backstabbing (and often incestuous) review system, the bluntness and bruta ...more
Dec 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I ate up this Shakespearean ‘all’s well that ends well’ satire, described as a “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.” This book reminds writers to watch the hubris and check literary-attitudes at the door; but it does it with tender love and great humor.
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
Oh, I really really wanted to like this book. It's about the nefarious publishing world and it's many, many flawed players. Having spent some time in that world, I was hoping for some deliciously biting commentary, but what I got was a stale story filled with one-dimensional characters. I had to force myself to get through it (it takes a lot for me not to finish a book). My rating: meh.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: pretentious people who think they are writers
I really hated most of the characters in this book, as well as the author, but I felt like I had to finish it anyway to find out what happens, so maybe that means it succeeded. At least it was over quickly. I might read the original, but don't feel any particular need.
Kim Weiss
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, but I could see how someone wouldn't. As someone who's always had "novel writer" as my farfetched dream career, it was interesting to see the steps one must take to be published--the MFA, the conferences,practically needing an agent to get an agent--and what it's like after the book is published. I didn't know, for example, that you have to drive yourself on your own book tour out of state (unless you're a top selling author, of course) or that an author has such little contro ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure whether I really liked this book or not. Many other novels, particularly Jane Austen's works, have been rewritten in a modern manner in recent years, but Gissing's New Grub Street seemed a little too niche to warrant that treatment. Blackwell has remained eerily faithful to the original for a ood third of Grub, but she is also a smart enough writer to know when to jettison obsolete material in favour of something more contemporaneous.

Most striking in this American-set update of th
I thought a book about writers and the publishing process would be interesting as I am such a reader. The idea might be interesting but this book was not. I pushed myself to keep reading despite the often trite story lines, the often unbelievable crossing of characters' lives, and not being particularly drawn to any of the characters. There were times when I thought a story line had promise but it often ended before coming to fruition. A little jaded as well as the writers who had the most succe ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
Sep 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I guess what I've taken from this novel is that abhorrent, shallow people are rewarded in the publishing world, earnest writers concerned about content end up either drunk and deluded or comfortable but vaguely unsatisified, and the true believers end up destitute and delusional. And scary thing is, I think I believe this. I could forgive Amanda and Jackson for viewing novel writing as a strictly commercial exercise in marketing to the masses and wishing to make money from it. But I could not st ...more
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in writing
This is a novel written about the author's Field: Writing. (Write what you know.) The Author is a professor who teaches creative writng. (I assume.) The ironies are too many to mention all. The book tells an ugly story of the 21st Century literary world--writers, agents & editors, publishers and professors. None of the characters are admirable save one, a young woman who is the daughter of a horrid publisher/professor. (I'm going to take a guess and say the model for the character is the aut ...more
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I bought this on the Kindle daily deal, thinking the description sounded OK and not knowing it was a re-writing of George Gissing's 'New Grub Street' (that I'd never heard of but have now downloaded).
It took me a while to take to the novel and the characters, especially as it was so heavily cynical about the writing and publishing industry. It read like one big giant piss-take which I thought I would get fed up of pretty quickly but instead I began getting drawn in to the characters and their li
Anita Smith
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, or really anyone who has an art or a passion for an art.
Recommended to Anita by: no one... I picked it up on a whim at the library. I hadn't even
I just finished this book tonight, and it was great! A very interesting read about the lives of four friends as they try to find success in the writing and publishing industry, and how it affects their relationships with each other, as some struggle to find success, and some find it easier than others, and there's a great mix of jealousy, rivalry, competition, family drama, love, etc. Kind of like a bit of a soap opera for intelligent writers. At the end of the book, the author acknowledges that ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Extremely lightweight but entertaining, particularly if you've got any contact with struggling writers. They're all types -- the young phenom stalled after one successful book, the scheming market-testers, male and female, who write books destined to be successful, the woefully unreadable idealist who has a book published only because he is photographed (and makes the newscast) jumping from a burning apartment building clutching his manuscript. I never read Grub Street, so I couldn't tell you ho ...more
Tyler Mcmahon
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While this is indeed a scathing satire of the publishing world, it is a story that anyone can enjoy. To me, it feels like a whole new kind of parody, one that manages to succeed without moralizing. Blackwell is able to showcase both the pitfalls and windfalls of the book-business without ever becoming mean-spirited or dogmatic. In this novel, the relationship between artistic integrity and commercial success is not so much antithetical as just...occasional. In Grub, we are shown that the publish ...more
Chris Koslowski
The mark of good satire is the turn from wink to ache, and there's lots of ache to be felt throughout Blackwell's novel, particularly at its close. Many of Grub's characters are over-the-top pariahs, but in between their actions and dialogue we glimpse their humanity and remind ourselves of our own ridiculousness (particularly us writers). Funny, sad, and fair in the shots it takes. This book is by no means mean-spirited, but it pulls no punches in highlighting the pathetic pageantry and empty a ...more
Sara Snow
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The first half makes you want to ditch your current life, curl up with your keyboard, just to be a novelist and experience all of its romanticized drudgery. The second half makes you want to run back to your chosen career with all the fervor of a teacher collecting the last assignments before summer break. --Note that the metaphor was inspired by all of this book's talk of carefully crafted sentences and beautiful prose. :) -- I really enjoyed this book, but toward the end I found myself not lik ...more
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Despite the unlikable characters and predictable ending, I found this book intriguing to read. It was interesting to read about the publishing world, though I strongly hope that the representation of it in this book is not accurate. The idea that anyone can write a book seems absurd to me, as I'm sure it would to anyone who has ever wanted to. Not to mention the idea that authors regularly sacrifice joy of writing for meaningless profits is disheartening. I know that some authors live this way, ...more
Valerie Duffner
May 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Decent enough takedown of the modern publishing industry, enjoyed the silliness of the characters and how it poked fun at the different writing trends, and how some writers took advantage of that (book based on painting + supernatural theme + cute animals = profit). Makes me interested in reading New Grub Street, and also curious about how it would read a decade from now, when the trends have changed.
Jul 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I would not have come across this book on my own (it was a book club choice) and had not even heard of the book it was based upon, New Grub Street. New Grub Street took a satirical look at the world of publishing in the 1800s and Grub updates that to today. It is amazing how much translates after so much time. I enjoyed the concept of the book and there were many laugh out loud moments, but it wasn't exactly the type of book that I will be telling everyone they have to read....
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2008
This book is very engrossing, with each chapter focusing on a specific character. The chapters are pretty short ranging from 2 to 10 pages, which in effect keeps the book going steadily and is hard to put down. Elise Blackwell does not dwell too long on any particular character, but each character has a unique depth with this someone trite struggling artist story. The point of the book, however, is not the story itself, but of the characters finding their own identities through their writing.
Cyn Cooley
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was reasonably well written but I just didn't really care about any of the characters, I didn't feel strongly sympathetic for any of them. I know it is a re-telling and I have never read the original so I cannot compare it to that but if the characters are fundamentally the same in behavior, I wouldn't enjoy the original either.
Dec 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book made me want to write a book. Or try. So what does that tell you? If anything this book should have turned me off of that idea. It tells the story of the politics of how books get written and selected. Is being a novelist about being artistic, or hitting on a saleable concept and writing it accessibly? Made me think about fiction and why I choose what I choose to read.
This book is apparently a modern retelling of George Gissing's book New Grub Street. Am I supposed to already be familiar with that work? I'm not. I just grabbed this at the library one day. The book is pretty entertaining. I'm sure that a lot of writers can relate to the characters and their situations.
Deborah Barone
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I think it is worth looking at by anyone interested in fiction. There were moments of very interesting bits. Definitely an interesting choice for book groups.
Aug 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Author Elise Blackwell pulls off a rare bird: a satire brimming with humanism. I enjoyed every line of this book, which reminded me at times of Whit Stillman’s marvelous first feature Metropolitan.

Jenny Mcdermott
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm reading this book now. So far I hate all of the characters, not sure I'm going to keep reading it. Everyone is miserable and sad. Not into that so much . . . . It's about a group of young people that want to become writers.
Terry Perrel
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you're an MFA grad, a writer or reviewer, a teacher of lit or theory, you'll enjoy this book and perhaps recognize some of the askewed personalities. Great fun. Forward-tilt plot. But not an important work. It's a beach or sick day book for the literary crowd.
Darshan Elena
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: bibliophiles

an amusing and lovely modernization of new grub street... aspects of this novel seemed spot on in terms of the frustrations of writing and the idiocies of corporate publishing... i was, i admit, a bit disappointed at the novel's but it was worth the read.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
After finishing this, I really want to read the book that this is loosely based on (New Grub Street) to see if I like that as well. The characterizations and intertwining stories made for a quick read. I also liked the alternating perspectives. And its all sort of tongue-in-cheek which I enjoy.
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Elise Blackwell is the author of three novels: Hunger, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, and Grub. Originally from southern Louisiana, she has lived all over the country and currently teaches at the University of South Carolina.
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