James Scott’s The Kept
One of the best parts of my job is meeting writers and discovering stellar books that never made it onto my radar. There are so many fantastic novels in the world and I’m very grateful to the James River Writers Conference for connecting me with James Scott and his debut The Kept.
Why we are reading Scott’s The Kept
Before I was an agent, I was a reader, a connector (in the Malcolm Gladwell vernacular), and an author groupie. I can’t pass up the chance to read a novel from a writer I just met, especially when that writer is gracious and doing what he can for other writers trying to navigate their careers. I met James Scott at a conference in Richmond, VA last weekend and he gives a great panel, passes along a strong message of perseverance to young writers, and looks great in a blazer.
The Kept has already interfered with bedtime, keeping me up reading well past a decent hour. Told from the points of views of two mysterious characters, a burdened and distant mother and son, trying to forge their way after being thrown together by unspeakable tragedy, The Kept is the kind of dark and literary fiction that is at the top of my wish list as an agent —reminiscent of Daniel Woodrell, A.M. Homes, and Charles Portis. I can’t wait to pick it back up.
Critical Praise for James Scott’s The Kept
“Scott is a master of mood… This landscape is more mythic than historic, and Scott’s characters are dark brush strokes of appetite and deceit. His central concern, as a storyteller, is the dynamic of consequence.” — New York Times Book Review
“[A] bravura debut….It is a testament to the author’s artisan-like control that he is able to tease us with Elspeth’s crimes from the outset and yet keep the terrible measure of her dereliction at bay until the final clinch, as breathless as it is inevitable.” — Boston Globe
“Graceful…unsettling…The Kept is a novel where most everyone harbors dark secrets and most characters are not who they appear to be.” — USA Today
“Dark and mysterious… A novel whose daring is found in its bleakness… The plot unfolds with a weighty languor reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy… sparse, elegant… haunting.” — New York Times
“Quite an impressive debut novel…James Scott’s descriptions of nature and his ability to reveal two complex, tormented people are what make the book live and even sing, albeit a mournful, heartbroken music.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The Kept starts out as a straightforward revenge narrative, then slowly deepens into something much more mysterious and compelling. James Scott has written a riveting and memorable debut novel.” — Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers