John Williams of The New York Times reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
The journalist and novelist Walter Kirn is best known to a wide audience as a fiction writer: his novels “Thumbsucker” and “Up in the Air” have been made into major-studio films. But Kirn is also a gifted journalist and critic, and his latest book falls into that age-old category, Stranger Than Fiction. It’s called “Blood Will Out,” and it details Kirn’s relationship with Christian Gerhartsreiter, better known as Clark Rockefeller. That was the false identity he assumed to pass himself off as American royalty. His cover was blown when he kidnapped his daughter during a custody battle. He was convicted of that crime in 2009, and in 2013 he was convicted of a murder in California that had occurred nearly 30 years earlier.
Kirn met the man he knew as Clark Rockefeller in 1998. The circumstances were appropriately bizarre. As a favor, Kirn set out to drive a dog from Montana to New York for Rockefeller, who had adopted the animal on the Internet. What followed was a mostly long-distance friendship. Kirn offers a close-up portrait of a fascinating, chilling figure. The book is thoughtful about the issue of class, about the ways in which writers get to know, and use, their subjects, and about how and why we feel that we know other people. “Blood Will Out” is as gripping and provocative as the events that it chronicles.