Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 79: Emmanuel Carrere, The Adversary


This week we’re reading the breakout 2001 book by French writer Emmanuel Carrere, the true-crime story of Jean-Claude Romand, who murdered his wife, his children, and his parents, after living a life of, as the book’s subtitle has it, “monstrous deception.”


We talk about the line between drama and sensationalism, and speculate about what goes on in the head of a compulsive liar. In the second half of the show we talk about this Paris Review interview with Carrere, in which he discusses, among other things, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, a book he calls a masterpiece but also fundamentally dishonest and “morally hideous.”

If you’d like to read the Alice Bolin essay Mike talked about during the show, you can do so here, at The Toast. If you’d like to check out the writer’s thesaurus recommended by Tom, you can do that here: Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus And if you’d like to give us money (we’re still in the midst of our annual fund drive) you can do so here, via Indiegogo. Every few bucks is appreciated.

Oh, and you can see Mike’s fancy new website here, and read the essay he wrote for it, about driving across the country and losing his mind a little in the California desert.

As always, we’d love to get your feedback on what we talked about during the episode. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. If you like the show, please consider writing us an iTunes review, and spread the word to your literature-loving friends.

You can stream the episode right here on our site, download the mp3 file, or subscribe (for free) via iTunes, or your favorite podcast app, and never miss another installment.

Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 79 (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

2 thoughts on “Episode 79: Emmanuel Carrere, The Adversary

  1. I get Carrere’s point, but I still prefer for the author not to be a character in true crime books. When I read something like In Cold Blood or The Executioner’s Song or even one of those trashy 7-11 paperbacks I want to focus on the people involved in the events, not how the author reacts to them. I don’t need him to be my surrogate. I think part of the problem is that the writer has to artificially insert himself into the situation (I mean, Carrere and Romand would never had met had not Carrere forced it to happen).

    Romand kind of reminds me of a US murderer, Spangler, who killed his wife and kids after building an elaborate life of lies. He also went on to murder a second wife by pushing her into the Grand Canyon. He claimed she slipped and fell by accident. One of the park rangers said, “I thought it was a little suspicious that when he came into the office to report his wife’s “accident”, he waited in line for ten minutes until it was his turn at the front desk.”

    I’ve also noticed and appreciate you supplying more links to items discussed in the episode, particularly for the Way Back shows.

  2. Pingback: 2015: The Book Fight! Year in Review | Book Fight!

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