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THE PINBALL THEORY OF APOCALYPSE

JONATHAN SELWOOD


Contemporary Fiction

Harper Perennial


August 2007
ISBN: 9780061173875

Isabel Raven was told in school that she had "technical abilities," a polite way of saying her artistic talent was mediocre in originality but technically correct enough to earn her a paying position as a copier of great art. Not an auspicious beginning for an aspiring art career, for sure!

As the novel opens with a Los Angeles earthquake, Isabel's reputation is taking a major turn toward fame due to the promotion of an art dealer, Dahlman. It seems her unique compositions composed of classic artistic pieces with famous cultural icons superimposed on the original character's heads are a hit. But there's more than Isabel is ready to accept. Dahlman attempts to threaten her with violence into signing an agent agreement, places some highly questionable photos on her website, and basically is intent on turning her artistic integrity into a humiliating ad campaign.

Add to the insanity a physicist father who has scientifically calculated the imminent end of the world, a mother who thinks anything goes as long as one is true to one's self, a philosophical billionaire philanthropist and his totally out-of-control thirteen year-old daughter, and being dumped by her boyfriend for a teenage Latino pop singer who alternately acts like an maniacal Britney Spears or a Madam.

The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse is to art what The Devil Wears Prada is to fashion. Insanity is the raucous norm, but Selwood does an excellent job at this satirical romp through the promotional L.A. scene, with a subtle, but no less powerful, set of inferences about being REAL despite the surrounding madness!

In the light of the flurry of books about art and the relationships behind them within the last few years, this book says more about art, the advertising world, and popular culture than the reader initially expects. And it's done simply but brilliantly!

Hurrah for you J. Selwood! Who do you think will "get it?"

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on July 3, 2007

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