-Book Reviewed by Diana Mumford–
Beautiful actresses with mysterious tattoos, powerful drugs, and the promise of fame characterize Lee Matthew Goldberg’s Slow Down. When Noah Spaeth loses his job as a talent booker, he is unconcerned. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he views his new found freedom as an opportunity to achieve fame. Of his writing, Noah says, “I’m about to create something that’ll blow people away, and no one can stop me.” Although he is college educated, Noah’s Holden Caulfield–like attitude glorifies the instinct to drop out and empowers his rampant ego. An unpredictable adventure awaits readers.
Eager and inspired, Noah soon sits down to write a New York Times bestseller, only to encounter debilitating writer’s block. He overcomes this difficulty by trying to impress hotshot Dominick Bombach, an actor, director, and producer who holds the key to Noah’s success. Dominick is making what he believes to be a revolutionary film. When asked about his script, Dominick replies, “It’s all in here. That’s where I’m keeping it. To create a complete idea is to fill it with bullshit.” Ever the narcissist, Dominick asks Noah to take part in the project only after the aspiring screenwriter woos the established producer by writing a short story based on Dominick’s first successful film. It seems like Noah’s ticket to the big-time is sealed, but Dominick’s egotistical personality rivals Noah’s.
Unfortunately for Noah, Dominick is also dating Nevie, Noah’s long-time friend and hopelessly unattainable crush. Noah recalls of Nevie, “Back then her cruel words had made me want to kiss her even more.” In spite of his self-loving attitude, Noah is a hopeless romantic, and his relationship with Nevie shows that, buried underneath his conceited exterior, he has a semblance of humanity.
Dominick and Noah’s work dynamic is nerve wracking. Noah thinks little of Dominick but panders to his every whim, hoping to steal fame. “I became confident in steadily manipulating him, which was easy enough to do as long as I called him ‘a genius’ about three times a day,” Noah reflects. Dominick, of course, is temperamental and prone to tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. When Noah hatches a heinous plot to overthrow Dominick as top dog, he uncovers his mentor’s clandestine dealings in the process.
The novel is not without its flaws. Slow Down features an awkward framing device—a story within a story that is interrupted by a full recount of Dominick’s film, Detached. Likewise, some readers will find the principle characters somewhat unlikable. Despite these disruptions, the book is an enjoyable read, if only to see whether the characters receive their comeuppances. The subplots concerning mystery women with matching tattoos and a new drug coursing through the city, are slightly ridiculous, but add a provocative twist, rendering this novel a page turner.
Will Noah get what he deserves in the end? Are his actions against Dominick redeemable? Readers will decide. Regardless, part mystery, part dysfunctional love story, Slow Down is one fast-paced read you can’t put down. Available from New Pulp Press.
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