BLOOD WILL OUT

The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade

Walter Kirn

New York Times Bestseller

Hailed by critics as “one of the best true-crime books . . . and also one of the best memoirs” (Seattle Times) in recent memory, Walter’s unbelievable “Hitchcockian psychological thriller” (Amy Tan) of his fifteen-year friendship with grifter-turned-murderer “Clark Rockefeller” is a one-of-a-kind study in criminal psychology, credulity, and the relationship between a writer and his subject. Both a memoir of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley and an investigation into the crimes of a true psychopath, Blood Will Out exposes the dance between con and mark that beats at the heart of the American dream.

more …

New York Times Bestseller

Hailed by critics as “one of the best true-crime books . . . and also one of the best memoirs” (Seattle Times) in recent memory, Walter’s unbelievable “Hitchcockian psychological thriller” (Amy Tan) of his fifteen-year friendship with grifter-turned-murderer “Clark Rockefeller” is a one-of-a-kind study in criminal psychology, credulity, and the relationship between a writer and his subject. Both a memoir of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley and an investigation into the crimes of a true psychopath, Blood Will Out exposes the dance between con and mark that beats at the heart of the American dream.

less …
  • Liveright
  • Paperback
  • March 2015
  • 272 Pages
  • 9781631490224

Buy the Book

$15.95

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  • Liveright
  • Hardcover
  • March 2014
  • 272 Pages
  • 9780871404510

Buy the Book

$25.95

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About Walter Kirn

Walter Kirn is the author of Thumbsucker and Up in the Air, both made into major films. His work has appeared in GQ, New York, Esquire,

and The

New York Times Magazine.

Praise

One of the most honest, compelling and strangest books about the relationship between a writer and his subject ever penned by an American scribe.” —Los Angeles Times

“[A] tight, gripping book….[T]his bit of noir, from Mr. Kirn about Clark Rockefeller, is just right.”

New York Times

[E]quals Truman Capote's In Cold Blood as a nonfiction novel of crime.”— San Francisco Chronicle

Discussion Questions

Do you think there is anything beneath Clark’s ever-shifting façades? Does Clark have a genuine “personality?”

How does Clark’s life, which is built around the telling of lies, differ from the author’s life as a novelist?

On page 61 the author writes, “‘You can’t cheat an honest man,’ goes the old saying, the notion being that falling for a charlatan requires moral softness in the victim.” Do you think there is a tacit complicity between con and mark?

How do various locales inform the narrative? What does the American West, New York City, or Hollywood represent to Clark and the author?

How do literature and the media influence Clark’s invented personalities? Do you think our general saturation in pop culture helped or hurt his attempts at hoodwinking others?

Did the fact that Clark pretended to be a member of one of America’s wealthiest families make his ruse more believable? Are Americans blinded by wealth, or would he have been just as successful pretending to be a member of the middle class?

How does Clark’s proposal of the theory (on page 142) that reality is a “computer program” and life is “an illusion” aid him in his schemes?

Clark is constantly performing an act for those around him. In what ways is the author playing a part? Is he ever aware of his role?

The author says that Clark “spoke from inside my own American mind.” How was Christian Gerhartsreiter able to manipulate Americans through his position as a secret outsider?

Clark tells Walter that the key to manipulating people is “Vanity, vanity, vanity.” Can you think of some examples where this is true in the book?

How does the author’s story of the time he got lost in the woods during a snowstorm inform his relationship with Clark?

What methods does Clark use to take advantage of the idea of “Faith in strangers, rewarded in full measure?”

Do you think it’s possible for Clark to feel remorse?

Do you think Clark would have fooled you if you’d come across him?