They say reality is stranger than fiction. In the case of Bill O’Reilly’s Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Television and Murder, let’s hope it’s not.
On Thursday, Entertainment Weekly reported that O’Reilly wrote the novel in 1998, in which a disgruntled ex-TV anchor enacts a revenge fantasy, violently murdering those responsible for his firing.
The novel’s second sentence, centered on protagonist Ron Costello, who’s just entered a media party, reads, “For he was frustrated and fed-up, and what he badly needed was to satisfy a basic human need, the need for some kind of physical release.”
The former Fox News anchor, who was just dismissed after sexual harassment allegations against him resurfaced, has demonstrated what The New Yorker described as “violent impulses” in the past. Of course, it’d be awfully literal and reductive to assume that anyone who writes about violence is capable of violence themselves. But the book’s sexually explicit content might strike some readers as an uncomfortable parallel.
While many fans appreciated Those Who Trespass, a few reviews on Goodreads prove some readers had a hard time believing the revenge plot was purely fiction.
“I can’t believe O’Reilly wrote this book,” one review reads. “Not because it was super controversial, but rather because it was such blatant wish fulfillment that I would assume he’d be mortified to have people read it.”
“Easily one of the most unsettling books I’ve ever read,” another states, “because it’s obviously just Billy O fantasizing about murdering everyone who’s ever done him wrong.”
“I, personally would be terrified to piss the guy off, after reading this novel of revenge murder,” yet another concludes.
O’Reilly has published fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books since then, including his most recent title, Old School: Life in the Sane Lane. His current publisher, Henry Holt, has said that it will stand by the author in spite of the charges against him.