A spellbinding and provocative psychological thriller that shows just how far a man will go to win the most enduring and ruthless of games: the game of power.
Raised in the upper echelons of elite New York society, Thomas Spencer has never wanted for much. But much is hardly enough for a man whose greatest satisfaction lies in shattering the happiness of others. Thomas, the black sheep of his family, harbors only resentment toward those closest to him for what they have more of: good looks, good cheer, good social graces. But what Thomas may lack in charm, he makes up for in cunning. And it is this that will serve him best when he trades in his glittering world of privilege for a chance to claw his way to the top—on his own terms, and at any cost. As Thomas achieves fame and success as an ad man, he becomes ever more deeply entrenched in an insidious underworld of media, politics, and women, and an astonishing picture emerges of a complex, destructive personality who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Shameless and electrifying, Story of a Sociopath illuminates the true nature of power through the mind of a master psychological manipulator.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I’m dying. It’s not that I’m terminally ill or that my doctors have declared me a lost cause. The last time they saw me was to tell me that I was in pretty good shape, especially for someone who’s suffered a heart attack and had valve replacement surgery. My blood sugar levels are a bit high, and so is my cholesterol, and my blood pressure’s on the edge, but it’s nothing, they say, that can’t be fixed by taking a few pills every day, going on a diet, and giving up cigarettes and alcohol.
“Go for a walk. The best thing is to go for a walk. It’s the best medicine. Lots of people with your medical history would be pleased to look like you,” the doctor said, trying to cheer me up.
I’m not that much older than him, eight or ten years at the most. I didn’t say anything. Why should I? I know that I’m dying and I don’t need blood tests or cardiograms to prove it. How do I know? I know because I look at myself in the mirror every morning and see the brown patches that have sprouted on my skin. And not an inch of my skin that hasn’t lost its elasticity.
I look at my hands and what do I see? Blue threads showing through the skin. The same blue threads that crisscross my legs. They are veins, as hard as stone now.
“You are more interesting than you were when you were twenty,” the hypocrites say. Liars. Especially the women. The only thing interesting about me is my bank account and my entry in Who’s Who.
It’s been a while since I realized that other people don’t see you for who you are, but rather for what you have, for what you represent. The same gray hair, the same grayish skin: these would be looked at with indifference or even disgust if I were one of those wretched creatures who can be found in any corner of the city.
How much longer do I have? A day perhaps, a week, five, six, ten years . . . or maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up with a sharp pain in my chest, or find a lump while I’m in the shower, or faint in the street, and the same pleasant doctor will tell me that I’ve got cancer somewhere, in my lungs, my pancreas, wherever. Or he’ll tell me that my tired heart has given out again, and I’ll need a new valve. From one day to the next death will show its face.
But I don’t need a lump, or a fainting fit, or my heart to beat out of time. I know that I am dying because I’ve reached that age when there’s no more fooling yourself and you sense that you are living on borrowed time.
Tonight death has filled my thoughts and I’ve started to wonder what the last minute of my life will be like. I’m afraid that it will be in a hospital bed, without any power to make decisions about my own existence. I imagine myself incapable of moving, incapable of speech, communicating by signs or with glances, with nobody able to understand or share my suffering.
We don’t choose where or when we are born, but we should at least be able to decide how to confront the final moment of our lives. But that’s denied to us as well.
When I know that the hour has come when death will visit, I’ll try to work out how to greet her, how to avoid her for a while, but above all how to start the trek into nonexistence.
And so, as I await that treacherous knock on the door, tonight I am overwhelmed by memories of my life, and they all leave the taste of bile in my mouth.
I’m scum. Yes, I always have been and I can’t make myself regret being scum, for having been scum. Although if what the physicists say is true, and time is just a construct of the human mind, we should have the chance to walk backward, to live the life we could have lived but did not.
Am I wrong if I think and say that we would all change parts of our past? That we would do things differently from how we have done them? If we could retrace our footsteps . . . Maybe even I would behave differently.
There are people who say, out loud, that they regret nothing. I don’t believe them. Most people have consciences in spite of themselves. I was born without a conscience, or at least I never knew where to find one, but perhaps one will knock on my door tonight. But I will try not to let her in, because nothing can change the things that torment us.
Tonight, as I look death in the face, I’ll go over what I have lived through. I know what I did, and what I should have done.