Author and artist Mosquera (Sleeper’s Run, 2011) offers a witty black comedy featuring a struggling writer who learns firsthand about life in the spotlight.
“Creativity is a heavy burden,” remarks a heavy-drinking barfly in Mosquera’s crisp, character-driven novel. Though a well-worn theme, it’s artfully embraced by Lemat, a crestfallen, late-30-something unpublished author haplessly trudging through life exasperated by a thankless print design job. He lives in a dingy neighborhood with the hopes of one day becoming a successful writer. After his botched suicide attempt, a bitter farewell to an old girlfriend and his being laid off at work, Lemat’s catastrophic hopelessness manifests itself in a rash decision to write “something commercial and shocking,” spurred on by Guy, a ruthless talent agent whose mantra is “nothing sells better than outrage.” Much to the chagrin of his best friend, Dep, Lemat settles on a provocative, controversial plotline and hyperproductively bangs out the manuscript, which Guy insists should be self-published. Though his book, Killing Jesus, receives the expected backlash from affronted religious groups, the fervor only intensifies the book’s media exposure; due to the notoriety, Lemat commands a six-figure publishing deal. However, there are drawbacks to his newfound star status on the best-seller list, on the talk show circuit and in Hollywood: His relationships with childhood friends and sexy tattoo artist “Ink” sputter, and his sanity shifts on the heels of a follow-up novel. Has Lemat completely sold out or just positioned himself to gain fame, notoriety and wealth by incrementally finessing the publishing market? Mosquera, who keenly projects the dynamics of the headstrong writer, presents Lemat with pitch-perfect characterization as a well-intentioned, motivated novelist in search of that ever elusive book deal. Charting the calamity that ensues when prideful innovation meets desperation, this cleverly imagined novel explores the nature of the creative process, the complexity of consequences and the desperate lengths to which determined people will go.
A cutting look at the pains of fame.