Out-of-date millennial farce from Jaivin (Eat Me, 1997, etc.), who hits some easy targets—art school philosophers and poseurs, clueless bureaucrats, rebels attacking a system that pays for the privilege, and so forth—in her tale of Australian artists versus government philistines.
Our hero: Miles Walker. He’s only 23, but he’s the best damn painter of his generation, at least according to him. Actually, he may well be the only damn painter of his generation, since all the artists he knows have abandoned traditional media in favor of conceptual stunts and chainsaws. Undaunted, Miles begins a series of canvases depicting his growing paranoia. He’s convinced someone’s trying to kill him, and it could be any of his flatmates: Thurston, a cyber-medievalist who wears chain-link pajamas; or ZakDot, a fey stud whose heart belongs to Dada; or Maddie, an angry, beautiful anarchist and occasional lesbian. Telly-obsessed Miles finds out that Australian government officials are making noises about cutting off arts funding, and a woman named Destiny Doppler is touting a plan—Clean Slate—to eliminate artists altogether. Lo, an underground is born, and art has meaning once more. Life goes on. Miles is more nervous than ever, and his eager friends’ attempts to lay him aren’t helping. Still undaunted, he pines for distant Destiny and finally gets lucky with an amorous cop named Grevillea Bent. Flash forward to New Year’s Eve and the worldwide celebration of the year 2000: Miles has been kidnapped by a villain with a speech impediment who’s left him bound and gagged on a cruise ship in Sydney Harbor. He awaits his fate, knowing that Maddie has planted a bomb aboard the ship, and the clock is ticking . . .