Boogie-Woogie

Danny Moynihan, Author
Danny Moynihan, Author Thomas Dunne Books $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-27281-4
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-28851-8
Hardcover - 265 pages - 978-0-7156-3102-7
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The hip, trendy New York art scene provides the backdrop for Moynihan's satiric debut novel, a montage-like collection of scenes in which the author tries to mimic structurally the energy of the Mondrian masterpiece that links the fates of his art world characters. Moynihan introduces his wacky crew in rapid-fire succession. At the top of the heap is Art Spindle, a powerful gallery owner who shows the work of established artist Jo Richards and fights to extract money from rich patrons like the elderly Rhinegolds. Lower down on the totem pole are up-and-coming agent Beth Freemantle, who eventually opens her own gallery, and intriguing young artist Elaine Yoon-Jung Yi, a lesbian who seduces and stalks her paramours and then turns her sexual escapades into video pieces. What comes after the introductions is a nonstop series of scenes and snippets from the lives of the various characters, covering deals, conversations and sexual encounters that wander into some kinky terrain. The author, a curator and art dealer, clearly knows the world his characters inhabit, and he sketches some convincing scenes, though his prose is occasionally breathy and awkward. The lack of narrative structure presents some problems in its own right--the early chapters of the novel are particularly jarring and scattershot, and the lack of a story line makes the book an uneven read. The result is a novel that works as satire, but fails to quite cohere as fiction. Art world denizens will appreciate the gossipy slant, but the tale has little to offer a more general audience. (Feb.)
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