TORTURE THE ARTIST by Joey Goebel

TORTURE THE ARTIST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From second-novelist Goebel (The Anomalies, 2003) a dull-edged satire about an entertainment conglomerate that tries to put the pain back into artists’ lives.

Foster Lipowitz, CEO of IUI/Globe-Terner—in charge of the IUI Internet company Terner Bros. Movies, Terner Bros. Music and subsidiaries, plus Globe Books—is the founder of the New Renaissance Academy of Kokomo, Indiana. His goal: “We will attempt to seek out and develop the polar opposite of the hedonistic millionaires who have been entertaining us and shaping our asinine culture. We will encourage our artist not through rewards such as money, fame, and sex, but through deprivation.” One of the first of the 457 prodigies enrolled is Vincent, born when his mother was 15 (father unknown) and named after a song by Tha Dawg Pak, which was a sampling from a NOFX song, which was a cover of the Don MacLean song about Vincent van Gogh. By seven, Vincent is one of the few dozen chosen for the “tortured artist” track. As his “manager,” he draws Harlan Eiffler, a former music critic and tedious philosophizer (“Death is huge to me”). Vincent’s sorrows multiply as Harlan poisons his dog, his mother disappears after giving birth to a brain-dead limbless baby (the result of her drug use), and Harlan burns down his house. At 16, Vincent falls in love and writes a song that’s recorded by the reigning Latin diva. Harlan pays his newfound love to leave the country, and Vincent turns out enough songs in a month for an album, including one that becomes number one in the country. Moving to California, he writes the screenplay for a successful remake of The Wizard of Oz. On his way to stardom, the suffering piles up: tuberculosis, suicide, alcoholism, syphilis. Then, at a decadent party, he meets his mother, who spills the beans about New Renaissance and Harlan.

Not bad as a concept, but this Hollywood roman à clef never comes to life.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 2004
ISBN: 1-931561-77-X
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2004