Torture the Artist
If the photo of the author on the blurb is to be believed Goebel is in his thirties. And with the fury and frustration only angry young man can afford, he writes a bitter satire about the American media machine.
A bit like in “The Business” by Ian Banks, the CEO of a world-wide media empire has come up with a genial plan to rule the world of entertainment: They establish the art concept “New Renaissance” and a school in which they can form their up-and-coming artists. The hero of the novel, Vincent, is the most promising of their prodigies and taken from his seedy home and mother at the age of seven. New Renaissance engages Harlan Eiffler, a cynical ex-musician, as Vincent´s godfather and manager.
His job is to take care that Vincent is continually a mentally and physically tortured person, so he can develop his genius in a kind of sublimation process. Poor Vincent is never allowed to be loved or enjoy his success. In a never-ending series of ghastly experiences he has to suffer to the point of suicide. But he loves Harlan and sees him as a surrogate father. The first half of this novel is really gripping and strangely fascinating. Goebel writes with profound insight in the world of entertainment.
And I´m sure it´s a roman de clef, which this reader here cannot fully appreciate. So Goebel introduces every new character by listing his favourite band, TV show and film. Goebel is so busy exposing the bad, bad media people, that he loses track of his plot and messes around in the end. Sorry to say, the reader loses interest in Vincent´s and Harlan´s story, too. Maybe Goebel should have read “This is your life” by O´Farrell first and endowed his characters with less erudition and more human touch.