Archive for July 27, 2013


“in front of the enemy lines” – 16,500,000 search results on Google
“behind the enemy lines” – 13,600,000 search results
“under the enemy lines” – 68,700 search results
“above the enemy lines” – 48 search results
“parallel to the enemy lines” – 20 search results
“opposite the enemy lines” – 12 search results
“beside the enemy lines” – 6 search results
“perpendicular to the enemy lines” – 5 search results
“kitty-corner from the enemy lines” – 0 search results

Quite a few people write for a living. Some writers write about writing. In “Grub,” Elise Blackwell takes it one step further and writes about writers who write about writing. (And yes, I’m well aware of the irony of writing a review about a writer who writes about writers who write about writing.)

“Grub” follows the lives of four young writers over a period of five years. Their approaches and personalities differ wildly, from a starving writer who risks his life to save a manuscript, to a business-oriented writer who is in it for the money and fame. The novel switches between the characters’ points of view, but they’re easy to keep track of. Blackwell fleshes out their personalities well enough to avoid having two-dimensional cardboard cutouts some writers end up with when they try to tackle this style.

In addition to the main characters, there are quite a few writers, critics and editors in the background, each with their own storyline. Some of them end up living happily ever after; others, not so much.

This book doesn’t have exciting action scenes or the trendy elements of suspense and intrigue. Instead, it talks about writing: the many different styles, the way authors find (or lose) inspiration, the excruciating process of finding an agent and getting your book published, the devastating impact of bad reviews, etc. Above all, it’s a book about writers themselves: what makes them tick and how one’s success (or failure) can alienate one’s friends.

If you’re at all curious about writing – or writers in general – grab “Grub” and give it a shot. You may very well end up loving it as much as I did.