This unsettling story of two former Princeton students – one wealthy and one not – is full of emotional blackmail and deceitPrinceton chums Landish Druken and Padgett Vanderluyden are the oddest of odd couples – one the stolid offspring of a Newfoundland seal-hunter who “needs a chair for each half of his arse”; the other the waspish heir to one of the biggest fortunes in America. Having caused Druken’s expulsion from college for cheating, Vanderluyden makes amends by offering him residence at Vanderland, the vast French folly he has been building in the North Carolina wilderness (and clearly modelled on Biltmore, the largest privately owned house in America). There’s an unsettling air about Vanderluyden’s Gatsby-esque tendencies; a sybaritic dedication to the “bare excessities” of life and a morbid compulsion to count the buttons of his immense wardrobe since a loose thread caused his baby sister to choke to death. But Druken is the greater enigma, a would-be novelist who methodically burns every sentence he writes. The wordplay can feel overwrought: “I’m more of a startist than an artist. I was once a starving artist but am now a raving startist.” But there’s a powerful sense of the emotional blackmail and …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books