About the Book
One of the many well-educated Ivy League graduates with literary ambitions who flock to New York City every year, 25-year-old Melissa Fleischer has the great fortune to work as the assistant to Austin Bloch, an editor responsible for refining and publishing the work of some of America’s most esteemed writers. But after she begins working at this prestigious magazine in the late 1970’s, Mel soon learns that the extravagantly long lunches her boss indulges in actually belie his affairs with a stream of young women. Mel is left in the distressing position of lying about these never-ending betrayals to Austin’s wife, Hillarie, who often calls while he is out of the office.
But then, unexpectedly, the New Yorker begins publishing Mel’s short stories, offering a spectacular start to what she hopes will be a long and fruitful writing career. Unfortunately, the exhilaration of being published by the magazine she reveres most is soon diminished both by Mel’s deeply painful discovery that her own marriage—like Austin’s—is far from idyllic, and by her continuing complicity in Austin’s betrayals. And nothing seems more difficult than the effort it will take to keep her marriage from falling apart.
Praise for The Blackmailer’s Guide to Love
If Dorothy Parker had tried writing Fatal Attraction, she might have come up with something like this wonderfully wry roman à clef about New York’s overheated literary world in the 70s. Although Marian Thurm is a far more compassionate observer of human nature, and her appealingly troubled characters, by turns funny, touching and unsettling, are completely her own.
―Suzanne Berne, author of The Dogs of Littlefield
Through her wide-eyed young heroine, Thurm wonderfully conveys the fantasies, disillusions, and vanities of literary New York in the late 1970s. Her biting sketches of the era’s key figures bring that lost world alive in granular detail.
―Andrea Barrett, author of The Air We Breathe and Archangel
Thurm spins a story about love and ambition, and the cost of both, focusing on a desperate-to-be-known writer, her philandering boss, her confused, straying husband, and the wily paramour who’s out to blackmail him. Smart, savvy, heartbreakingly funny, and oh so wise, with prose like sparklers on every page. Writers are going to absolutely adore this book, but hey, so will everyone else on the planet.
―Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Picture of You and With or Without You
About the Author
Marian Thurm is the author of seven other novels and five short story collections, including Today Is Not Your Day, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her novel The Clairvoyant was a New York Times Notable Book. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Michigan Quarterly Review, Narrative Magazine, The Southampton Review, and many other magazines, and have been included in The Best American Short Stories, and numerous other anthologies. Her books have been translated into Japanese, Swedish, Dutch, German, and Italian. She has taught creative writing at Yale University and Barnard College, in the MFA programs at Columbia University and Brooklyn College, at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence, and at the Yale Writers’ Workshop.