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Me and the Devil: A Novel Hardcover – December 4, 2012

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: Once upon a time--before heartthrob bloodsuckers sparkled in the sunlight of chaste daydreams--vampires meant sex and danger, blood and animal, Victorian taboo made unflesh, scratching at your windows in the small hours. In Me and the Devil, Nick Tosches doesn’t quite reach back to the Gothic (though he may reach for the Gnostic, if you want to dig into the seedier details) with his tale of an aging writer--a decrepit Drac of the New York night--who discovers rejuvenation in the femoral blood of his willing female complements. His book is so packed with grit, vice, and gore as to make it a queasy recommendation for unsuspecting readers, but if you think you’re ready, go for it. Me and the Devil is a throwback to the fearless writing of William Burroughs, Jim Carroll, and Richard Hell, a book heedless of boundaries and conscience. --Jon Foro

From Publishers Weekly

In this novel of sadomasochistic vampirism, an aging writer drinks blood to restore youth, vitality, and the urge to write. Nick is a misanthrope who sees people as a source of tedium and acid reflux. With young women, he enjoys rough sex, the kind that draws blood (his pickups like to be raped, bitten, and whipped). But there are no black capes or bats; instead, drinking blood is the transgressive act of an intellectual, an incarnadine feast over dull conversations about, among other things, the efficiency of the Greek language or the precision of Latin when it comes to oral sex. Nick also converses with the devil, about haberdashery and The Music Man. Occasionally, Tosches (In the Hand of Dante) uses the narrator as a mouthpiece to decry the monopoly of bookstores (a subject he's covered before), island-nigger nannies... pushing white yuppie brats in three-grand prams and strollers, and other topics. The book is composed of turgid prose, pornographic sex, misogyny, and slurs, images, and scenes impartial in their offensiveness, such as a woman falling in love with her rapist. A novel for the most devoted fans of transgressive fiction and the most outré vampire erotica. (Dec. 4)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (December 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316120979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316120975
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #904,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jill Stevens on November 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Over the weekend I read a galley of ME AND THE DEVIL.

This book reminded me of Michael Faber's UNDER THE SKIN and Katherine Dunn's GEEK LOVE and some of Thomas Tessier's work--dark stuff that you really can't get out of your head once you've read it.

Had a couple dinners, and people asked what they always ask me, "What are you reading?" and for the first time, I said, "I have no idea. It's a book that mentions Bela Lugosi, the Desert Fathers and Norman Rockwell. This guy dates an odd assortment of women and I think he wants to kill them and he believes he's becoming a God and getting healthier even as he's losing his mind..."

You know when you're getting sick and you're not aware of it, but gradually things just don't feel right? That's what this book was like. From the beginning, I knew something was wrong with the narrator but you couldn't get away from him, you're sucked into his weird fever-dream world.

It was like "reading" Brad Anderson's film THE MACHINIST, David Cronenberg's SPIDER and David Lynch's ERASERHEAD--all at the same time!

It's a book that should have a warning label on it.

Really an amazing writer and I was certainly drawn back to it after taking breaks for walks in the sun and seeing "normal" people. I haven't read anything like this in years.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (But you'll never get it out of your head.)
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Me and the Devil will never be mistaken for Twilight, despite the protagonist's craving for blood. In fact, my impression is that Nick Tosches wrote this as the Twilight antidote. He is (the novel makes clear) anguished that readers prefer fluff to Faulkner, that reading and literacy are dying and that the writing racket is "only a vestigial withering on the much bigger dying racket of conglomerated business itself." Still, writing a transgressive novel that many readers are likely to hate seems an odd way to protest the shelf space that bookstores give to Stephenie Meyer. By creating such an unlikable blood-drinking protagonist (even if it is the author's alter-ego), it is as if Tosches is daring readers not to buy his novel, a protest strategy that seems self-defeating. Of course, Tosches isn't the first writer to express his frustration by howling at the moon, and this is at least an interesting howl.

"We were all monkeys about to die" is the lesson drawn from life by Nick, a writer who has stopped writing, an opium-craving alcoholic who has stopped feeling, haunted by the memories of the dead monkeys he saw while serving in the Korean DMZ. Once consumed by "the combustions of sensuality," he can "no longer bear a human touch without recoiling." Only after he tastes Sandrine's blood is he awakened to the promise of a new life. In this new life, instead of biting women on the neck like a conventional vampire, he bites their thighs. The taste of blood invigorates him, stimulates his appetite for a flavor-filled life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Todd Dockery on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Creation by committee this ain't.

The fiction of Tosches is as unlike the "creative writing workshop" assembly line style that buffers all eccentricities and angular contradictions from the human writing process as were his literary antecedents, wild human beings who wrote such as William Faulkner or Hubert Selby, Jr. or Henry Miller. Tosches, as in his non-fiction, is always attempting to take it back to the source, so even in his fiction, be warned: you might learn something about antiquity. And maybe grow to realize the past isn't dead, and may not even, in fact, be the past. Also, it's a proven fact that the writing of Nick Tosches increases the size of your vocabulary.

Much of this novel is a hate song to contemporary culture. If you find yourself enamored of "smart" phones and endless distraction and the hopeful insecurity of conformity, this might not be your cup of coffee. And, let's face it, if that parade of plastic toys/distraction/conformity is your bag, you know you wouldn't have a smoke with that coffee, and you're just gonna see it all as self aggrandizing grumpy old man talk. That said, if you're sick of the incessant jive turkey parade with a screen blinking at you from every available surface so you don't have to do the dread chore of thinking, you might find some serious kinship with Tosches's brand of, let's get real gone here, LITERATURE.

Like Tosches's previous slab of fiction, IN THE HAND OF DANTE (which you should also buy), there is a character named "Nick Tosches." This is fiction. That is a character. It is a fruitless labor to observe the book as autobiography.
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Format: Hardcover
The most alarming and remarkable thing about Nick Tosches' latest novel, ME AND THE DEVIL, is that the protagonist --- an aging New York City writer named Nick --- may be an autobiographical version of himself.

The Nick Tosches of the novel is an over-the-hill writer with strong appetites. He is reminiscent of other old school writers of "new fiction" that drink hard and play harder. They almost always pour their lives and souls into their works but at the risk of coming across as self-absorbed and overindulgent.

Nick attends AA meetings, sometimes daily, while still pursuing the vices that have made him the writer he is today. He longs for youth and vitality, and lives vicariously through the various assortment of characters he meets in his daily jaunts around lower Manhattan. He has an unquenching proclivity for drinking human blood, yet is not a vampire. He simply seeks to live life to the fullest and exist far beyond what is acceptable to normal people.

While seeking a muse for his latest writing effort, he comes across a young woman named Melissa. She is many decades his junior, yet readily comes back to his apartment and engages in a night of sexual indulgence that would have made the Marquis de Sade blush. The result is a new-found inspiration and unknown source of vitality for Nick. Melissa seems to have infused him with a power that makes him feel nearly invincible and almost god-like. This can only end badly.

Nick mentions early on in the novel that writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a bout with a painful illness. His newly realized energy somehow lifts him above this but leaves him wanting more --- much more.
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