Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates
I’ve only read short stories by Oates and I thought I was getting a novel this time, but this seemed more like a novella; it was quite short. One day I will read a novel by the award-winning New Jersey native, but not yet. And hopefully when I do read a novel length story it will catch me as much as this story did.
Andrew J. Rush is a famous, but not Stephen King famous, novelist. He writes suspenseful mysteries that aren’t too gory but are well-constructed. Andrew J. Rush has a secret. He also writes as Jack of Spades. Jack of Spades writes gritty gory noir books and no one knows his identity, no one. As a reader we know that something is wrong immediately as Rush has internal conversations with Jack of Spades. When a woman threatens a lawsuit of plagiarism Rush is thrown for a loop even though the suit is unfounded and the woman is clearly mentally ill. That event is the tipping point in an author’s spiral downwards when his worlds start to collide.
King is referenced a lot in the book, you have to wonder if Oates is jealous, and really, what writer wouldn’t be jealous of King’s success. Maybe that’s where the idea for this book came from? In which case what pseudonym is Oates writing under?