Wormwood, mined Hollywood's film community for laughs, love and lampooning. In this sleek new satire, he train"/>
 

SWAGBELLY

David Levien, Author
David Levien, Author . Plume $13 (240p) ISBN 978-0-452-28454-8
Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Hardcover - 239 pages - 978-0-7490-0498-9
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1493-3
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Screenwriter/director Levien's first novel, Wormwood, mined Hollywood's film community for laughs, love and lampooning. In this sleek new satire, he trains his lens on Elliot Grubman, a fabulously wealthy New York Jewish pornographer whose high-flying, brand-name lifestyle has begun to unravel. Grubman owns both Swagbelly—a men's magazine whose quality hovers well below Playboy but above the crudest skin fare—and a thriving, cash-gushing sex-talk phone empire. Money aside, Grubman has a fistful of personal problems: he's unhappily divorced; his 13-year-old son has decided to skip his bar mitzvah and convert to Catholicism; his possibly underage girlfriend may be pregnant; and he's having serious performance problems in bed—to say nothing of a bum ticker that threatens to send him into infarction at any stressful moment. But Elliot soldiers on, attempting to win back the hearts and minds of his son and his ex-wife by throwing bundles of money at both of them, learning to play polo and attempting sex with the many porn stars who model for his magazine. Elliot tries to enjoy the good life, complete with brand-new socks every morning, custom-made suits, a fleet of exotic automobiles and a leased jet, but somehow all that plus $100 million and a legion of willing pneumatic women just isn't enough. Although desperate and often selfish, he's an engaging character and readers will root for him and wish him success. But the sudden ending has a rushed, tacked-on feel, a major plot thread is left hanging and the whole thing comes to a hopeful conclusion far too easily. It's fun, but a bit more work would have made it better. (Sept.)

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