The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy It Is Summer, Charlie, A Wealthy Banker With An Uneasy Conscience, Invites His Troubled Cousin Matthew To Visit Him And His Wife In Their Idyllic Mountaintop House As The Days Grow Hotter, The Friendship Between The Three Begins To Reveal Its Fault Lines, And With The Arrival Of A Fourth Character, The Household Finds Itself Suddenly In The Grip Of Uncontrollable Passions As Readers Of James Lasdun S Acclaimed Fiction Can Expect, The Fall Guy Is A Complex Moral Tale As Well As A Gripping Suspense Story, Probing Questions Of Guilt And Betrayal With Ruthless Incisiveness Who Is The Real Victim Here Who Is The Perpetrator And Who, Ultimately, Is The Fall Guy Darkly Vivid, With An Atmosphere Of Erotic Danger, The Fall Guy Is Lasdun S Most Entertaining Novel Yet

James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in upstate New York He has published two novels as well as several collections of short stories and poetry He has been long listed for the Man Booker Prize and short listed for the Los Angeles Times, T S Eliot, and Forward prizes in poetry and he was the winner of the inaugural U.K BBC Short Story Prize His nonfiction has been published in Harpe

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  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • The Fall Guy
  • James Lasdun
  • English
  • 24 March 2018
  • 9780393292329

10 thoughts on “The Fall Guy

  1. says:

    Matthew and Charlie are cousins, like brothers really, but their lives have gone in very different directions Charlie is a successful investment banker and a married father He owns multiple homes, has a million dollars in cash in his home safe, and is the type to be impressed with his own wealth Matthew lives in a dingy one bedroom and is still striving to make his mark in the restaurant business Both men are harboring some measure of resentment toward the other, but, like in most families, they keep it bubbling under the surface That s until Charlie invites Matthew to spend the summer at his vacation home As the days go on, the cracks between become undeniable.Maybe things would be less complicated if Matthew weren t enad with Charlie s wife, Chloe While he s not in love with Chloe and isn t looking to steal her away from his cousin, Matthew feels both an intimacy and possessiveness over her that he can t quite explain She s his without really being his It s a dynamic they ve all danced around for the last decade But as the summer wears on, Matthew starts to suspect that Chloe is hiding something, and he becomes obsessive about it, or less acting like a stalker It takes him down the road of no return.This is a suspense novel, and it might disappoint fans of modern thrillers, but this is the type of book I really appreciate It s told from one perspective and relies on a slower build up of tension The writing is good and the plot realistic It kept me interested, and, while not a true page turner, by the end I was racing through to see what would happen to Matthew My main frustration was with Chloe and Charlie, who I felt were underdeveloped What did Charlie really think of Matthew What were Chloe s motivations On the whole, though, good book.Note I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway

  2. says:

    Enh I didn t like the characters, and I know I wasn t supposed to, but they weren t even well written, and well written unlikable characters can still be enjoyable I wasn t wowed by the plot or the author s writing voice, either Lasdun seems to regard that old writing adage show don t tell as bad advice, and spends a lot a lot of the book hammering us with telling, with very little showing Early on, there s this They sat in the living room one morning playing Scrabble Matthew s family had been avid Scrabble players and Charlie had been introduced to the game when he gone to live with them as a teenager He hadn t much liked it it had been accorded with his sense of what was cool a novel concept in Matthew s old fashioned home, but extremely important to the adolescent Charlie and he hadn t been very good either And yet as an adult he d incorporated into his own household rituals when Lily learned to read The game seemed to have a significant emotional resonance for him, and Matthew was always touched when he suggested playing it It was as if his cousin were acknowledging the ancient bond between them Like, we know We know Matthew feels as if his cousin was acknowledging the bond between them, because Lasdun showed us that with the entire paragraph flashing back to the ancient bond between them playing scrabble But then Lasdun beats you over the head with it by adding that irritatingly redundant sentence at the end, to TELL us how Matthew is feeling There s a lot of that A lot of thesaurus y words, exclamation marks than I could handle, and sentences I had to re read because they were so fragmented and loaded down with synonyms This passage in particular made me groan out loud after I d finished it Depending on his mood, almost any image of success or even just average functionality had the potential to initiate a kind of looping self interrogation the abject sense of being confronted by some viable version of himself provoking the question of why he couldn t become that version, which in turn would arouse the fleetingly hopeful sense that all it would take would be a determined act of self adjustment, followed, however, almost immediately, by the recollection of this adjustment would have to take place in that tantalizing stretch of time we wander in so freely and yet can no longer alter in even the minutest degree, namely the past Which brought him back, like some infernal M bius strip of thought, to that condition of abject susceptibility to the lives of others Ellipses not mine Oy.I finished this really quickly, not because, as my Book of the Month box suggested, it was so gripping and thrilling, but rather because it was just not that deep And when I got to the back flap with Lasdun s bio, I found out he teaches creative writing at Columbia and The New School So what do I know, right

  3. says:

    Ever since I read It s Beginning to Hurt, a collection of stories by James Lasdun, I have eagerly picked up any writing of his I could find He comes from a long line of self aware male novelists who point to themselves, the human condition with its male inadequacies, and laugh with us, e.g., Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Graham Swift, and further back, Kingsley Amis and P.G Wodehouse That Lasdun is not as broad as these last two, matters not at all for what it is he perceives and is able to convey.Lasdun may be one of the most underrated novelists of whom I am aware A new novel of his should be an event, and widely heralded Instead I came upon this novel published last year in a library display My other reading had to wait until I had a chance to see what he was doing in this extraordinarily chilling horror novel in which the unspooling of mystery is embedded in the comfort the characters enjoy.There is a threesome a wealthy banker, his beautiful wife, and a talented cousin There are some stressors the banker has been laid off, the wife has an artist s eye but not an artist s income, and the talented cousin lost his last investment in a restaurant of which he was chef However, it is summer, and the three escape city heat to enjoy the cool of the summer house in the Catskills, time to refuel one s energies for the stretch ahead.The vacation idyll has a butterfly garden, a pool house, privacy hedges, large airy rooms, and a fully stocked kitchen The chef shops for local produce using the banker s seemingly inexhaustible supply of funds to prepare gorgeous meals of diverse and exciting courses, accompanied by wines from an extensive cellar that the banker enjoys replenishing in his free time Everything is lovely, until, suddenly, one character in the piece appears in town outside of the role assigned them On one foray to the tiny shops in town servicing the vacationers, the chef sees the wife driving to an apparently secret assignation Lasdun cleverly constructs this novel so that whatever happens after, our sympathies are at war with our understanding Tiny, shocking revelations mentioned almost as afterthought set alarm bells clanging, turning around hours of conclusions we have already made from the details Lasdun gives us This is a deeply disturbing novel, perhaps the so because we are lulled into believing that none of these likable and ordinary characters can harbor dark secrets But, we discover, one of the three is indeed twisted, and even when we get an inkling of the truth, we are not willing to completely believe the evidence of our eyes After all, Lasdun did leave out something crucial when we were first constructing our own narrative.Tell me the following passage, which comes late in the story, isn t calculated to give you chills Can we even trust the author It was still raining when he went to bed The pines stood dripping behind the guesthouse, dark and immense Glittering strings ran from the unguttered octagonal eaves He opened the door and slid the suitcase out from under the bed, half expecting, as he always did, the things inside to have rearranged themselves, so bristlingly volatile had they become in his imagination They lay exactly as he had left them Loved it To me this is a perfect summer read drifting in and out of consciousness by the water one instinctively feels something is wrong, but a stray sentence jolts us awake, sending heart rate pounding Terrific little psychological thriller.

  4. says:

    2.5 This is a capable psychological thriller about an out of work chef who becomes obsessed with the idea that his wealthy cousin s alluring wife is cheating on him during a summer spent with them in their upstate New York bolthole I liked hearing about Matthew s cooking and Chloe s photography, and it s interesting how Lasdun draws in a bit about banking and the Occupy movement However, the complicated Anglo American family backstory between Matthew and Charlie feels belabored, and the fact that we only see things from Matthew s perspective is limiting in a bad way There s a decent Hitchcock vibe in places, but overall this is somewhat lackluster I ve preferred Lasdun s poetry Water Sessions and nonfiction Give Me Everything You Have to this first taste of his fiction.

  5. says:

    Whoever is handling publicity for this new release, is doing an excellent job Covered in one of the weeklies as a must read thriller for Fall, The Fall Guy really did not deliver in my opinion The tale of revenge and obsession involved no thrills at all I appreciate a multi layer psychological suspense but this book was rather slow and the ending left me with a meh Don t get me started on the amateurish stalking of Chloe, her elusive yoga classes and the wealthy husband s paranoia The writing was great but the characters were developed far less than the self indulgent food descriptions, which actually stuck with me a duck egg and aged gruyere omelette, much Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for an honest review.

  6. says:

    Matthew, an unemployed and struggling chef, accompanies his wealthy cousin, Charlie, and Charlie s wife, Chloe, to their idyllic country house for the summer Through secrets, suspicions, and jealousy cracks in their relationships are revealed, as Matthew becomes increasingly obsessed with Chloe and her behavior.The story is told solely from the perspective of Matthew I would have preferred to have Charlie s and especially Chloe s perspectives as well While Matthew s character was well developed, I never found out enough about Chloe s motivations or Charlie s thoughts and feelings This was a pretty average piece of literary fiction with a slow start, but it picked up at 60%, and as it was relatively short at 256 pages, it can be read pretty quickly However, I m afraid this was another of these books that simply didn t evoke any emotions Class, money, and politics were discussed in detail than I cared for, and the elaborate descriptions of the food and the scenery made it very tempting to skim read Probably rather cheeky coming from me, as I tend to construct really long sentences myself, but believe me that s nothing compared to some of the sentences James Lasdun knocks together Mind you, he s a creative writing teacher, so he obviously knows his stuff.The Fall Guy is heralded as a taut psychological thriller gripping suspense story, but many of the developments felt really contrived the safe, the door key to the vacation rental, items found at the back of the sofa etc and the plot meanders along so that the thriller suspense elements just didn t work for me, I m afraid.But if you ignore the marketing and treat this as a literary character study, with the focus on Matthew, rather than on the plot, then it turns into a reasonable read.I received an ARC via NetGalley.

  7. says:

    This would have been so much better if told from all 3 character perspectives

  8. says:

    I bought and read this book after a friend recommended it, but I was hesitant Although it had quite a few good editorial reviews, I don t pay attention to that The readers reviews, however, showed that this novel was not well received, either on or Goodreads For example, out of nearly 3000 ratings on Goodreads, 32% gave it less than 3 stars I began to regret one clicking away ten hard earned dollars for the Kindle version.But I was pleasantly surprised and rewarded This was a psychological thriller in a true sense, with the personalities of the characters finely dissected, albeit by the protagonist s own questionable point of view The protagonist is Matthew, who is invited to stay with his best friend cousin and his wife Charlie and Chloe for the summer at their upstate NY retreat Included in his analysis of how these friends feel and behave, is his assessment of what they think of him, but whether this is an accurate representation of what they really think of him is debatable Despite that the narration has an almost exclusive focus on Matthew s thoughts and opinions, the book is written in the third person, and I wonder why As another GR reviewer pointed out my GoodReads friend Kasa , the story would have had of an impact on the readers if it was in the first person I don t recall any scene that takes place with Matthew absent Maybe the author felt he could be flexible with his similes and metaphors, which often did not gel with me anyway, but just made the book wordy perhaps Lasdun needed filler, since it is a short book and might have been under 200 pages without the blah blah In spite of these criticisms, I really enjoyed this book, and it haunted me for some time after I had finished The suspense was insidious, slowly creeping up stealthily, and I had to keep turning the pages to the end, so I could rid myself of the tension The sociopathic tendencies and rationalizations of the protagonist evoke The Talented Mr Ripley, or even the The Stranger Outside of his cousin Charlie and Charlies wife Chloe, Matthew doesn t seem to have any current friends, another aspect that makes him suspect regarding relationships.With such a mixed bag of reader reactions, I cannot recommend this book, but for me it was a very satisfying read I will be checking out other books by this author.

  9. says:

    Cousins Matthew and Charlie set off to spend their summer at the latter s second home, along with Charlie s wife, Chloe Charlie, a former banker turned ethical investor , is a multimillionaire Matthew, a restaurateur with no current job and vague dreams of opening a gourmet food truck , has not been quite so successful though this is one of those stories so stuffed with unimaginably privileged people that Matthew still has the sort of lifestyle most of us can only dream of To make matters complicated, Matthew is possessed of an odd combination of feelings towards Chloe He s attracted to her, but it s not as simple as desire alone she is an idealised composite in whom daughter, sister, cousin, mother, mistress, friend and mystical other half were all miraculously commingled But rather than being as you might imagine seethingly jealous of Charlie, he had no actual designs on Chloe, and in fact believed in her and Charlie s marriage almost as an article of religious faith It was something he considered absolutely right and absolutely fixed.Still, the friendship between Matthew and Charlie is volatile After a severe falling out when they were schoolboys, they ve only become amiable again over the past ten years Matthew still feels burned by that experience, and is well aware he is enormously in debt to his cousin in a number of ways When Matthew starts to suspect Chloe is having an affair and an investigation of her comings and goings seems to bear out his fears the stage is set for disaster The tension will slowly simmer for quite a while first, thoughThe Fall Guy makes you believe it centres on a simple and surely universally relatable moral dilemma if you found out your friend s partner was cheating, what would you do What if you secretly liked the partner better than the friend What if your relationship with the friend was already uneasy It pulls you into those questions, then spits you out as it forces Matthew into an ever worsening spiral of poor choices and lies The protagonist s innate shiftiness, remarked upon by other characters as well as being apparent to the reader, becomes an asset, as does the use of third rather than first person narrator You re distanced from Matthew enough that you re able to feel disgust at his actions but the relentless focus on his point of view, his obsessiveness, his panic, makes you feel like you re colluding nevertheless Lasdun s style has such a smooth, easy flow to it here I know it s an odd word to apply to writing, but I d describe it as unobtrusive it was like I was reading without realising I was reading, and I flew through the story at a speed that continually surprised me In several ways, it seems absolutely effortless A gripping, glittering novel I received an advance review copy of The Fall Guy from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter Twitter Instagram Tumblr

  10. says:

    First of all, I m grateful to the Goodreads Firstreads program and to the publisher, W.W Norton Company, for allowing me to be an early reader.James Lasdun knows a thing or two about betrayal and revenge In the last book I read by him a memoir entitled Give Me Everything You Have he tells the harrowing real life story of being stalked by an unbalanced student.So it s no surprise that this work of fiction, The Fall Guy, is so darn good It builds momentum slowly, beginning with the introduction of two of the three main characters Matthew, a superb haute cuisine chef who is currently unemployed, and his far successful cousin Charlie, a one time investment broker for Morgan Stanley Charlie, who is married to the ethereal Chloe, invites Matthew to spend the summer with them in their second home in the Catskills.The only thing is that Matthew is obsessed with Chloe and Chloe may very well be obsessed with a fourth character, who is fleshed out later in the book Each of these three characters is unreliable nothing is precisely as it appears Lingering in the background is the wide social class and money gap between the cousins and the resentment that traces back to their childhood As tensions mount and secrets become unveiled, there is an almost unbearable feeling of suspense in the final 100 pages of the book Who, in fact, is the victim Who will be the fall guy Who is the guilty party and what is the nature of guilt Can someone ever reinvent themselves or is the die cast early on The relationship between the Matt, Charlie and Chloe is finely nuanced and wonderfully explored and exposed As the fault lines in these relationships expand to become chasms, it is impossible to look away Expect to feel unsettled and totally absorbed.

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