Off the Record: A Novel

Off the Record: A Novel

English | January 29, 2018 | ISBN: 1925603245 | EPUB | 246 Pages | 0.8 MB


I have knocked on flyscreens and said to mothers of kidnapped toddlers, 'Don't you feel guilty for leaving your child in the front yard alone?' I have shamed them to tears for the photographer. I have gatecrashed funerals, linked innocent corpses to local crime syndicates. Or feigned empathy to the grief-stricken to make copy from their hard-luck stories. I enjoyed the kudos of my name beneath headlines on front pages and became used to the heartlessness as if blank inside. I was doing it for my family-it was worth the cruelty.

That line of work gives your eyes a plastic appearance. I've noticed it in the mirror, a dead glitter.

Callum Smith-Wordsmith, Words for short-is a newspaper journalist of the old school. He knows how to write a story that sings, knows all the tricks of the tabloid trade. And he likes to drink with his colleagues, sometimes to flirt dangerously with young women.

When his marriage blows up after a night of drinking goes way too far, Words is forced to leave the family home. Desperate to impress his estranged wife and feckless teenage son, he quits his job, taking a pay cut to work with a new online publication covering local crime. There the plum role of editor will soon be his, he reasons.

To Words, 'Honesty is a thief-it steals your life.' Better to do whatever it takes to get back in someone's good books. And that is what he sets out to do, in a series of ever more calamitous, destructive and amoral adventures.

Will the irredeemable Words win back his family? Or is comeuppance around the corner?

A satirical novel by Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlisted author Craig Sherborne, Off the Record stylishly skewers tabloid journalism and male vanity.

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