A Preparation for Death, By Greg Baxter

All the suffering, but without the genius

Unable to sell his first novel, the embittered American author Greg Baxter decamped from Baton Rouge to Dublin, where he wrote, taught evening classes, and slipped into a routine of heavy drinking and casual, affectless sex.

A Preparation for Death is the record of that miserable period, and documents his behaviour with painful honesty. We learn of the depths of his humiliation, and of his callous treatment of other people.

The book was, no doubt, cathartic to write, but I'm not sure what the reader is supposed to get out of it. Despite extravagant claims to kinship with Montaigne and Saint Augustine, Baxter derives no special philosophical insight from his experiences, and his prose is no better than workmanlike.