Book Review: Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg

How far would you go to make your dreams come true? For budding writer and filmmaker Noah Spaeth, being a Production Assistant in director Dominick Bambach’s new avant-garde film isn’t enough. Neither is watching Dominick have an affair with the lead actress, the gorgeous but troubled Nevie Wyeth. For Noah’s dream is to get both the film and Nevie in the end, whatever the cost. And this obsession may soon become a reality once Dominick’s spurned wife Isadora reveals her femme fatale nature with a seductive plot to get rid of her husband for good. Slow Down, a cross between the noir styling of James M. Cain and the dark satire of Bret Easton Ellis, is a thrilling page-turner that holds a mirror up to a media-saturated society that is constantly searching for the fastest way to get ahead, regardless of consequences.

My Thoughts

Slow Down is a fast-paced thriller written as though memoir from the perspective of protagonist and wannabe writer and film director Noah Spaeth. He’s about twenty-six looking back on events of four years prior and how he came to create his debut film Slow Down. Set in Manhattan, Slow Down depicts a privileged, entitled, pretentious and extremely decadent social milieu, mostly centred in the film industry. Debauchery and drug-taking abound in this behind-the-scenes exposé that focusses on the lengths a director will take to capture a great scene, produce a great movie.

Noah opens his tale by explaining how he came to meet the obnoxious Adonis Dominick Bambach, the original creator and director of the movie Slow Down, a movie then in genesis. Dominick is also a manufacturer of the designer drug Fast. This drug, akin to methylamphetamine, soon takes up stage centre when Noah becomes Dominick’s assistant. As he is drawn into his mentor’s world, he finds himself appalled, frustrated and challenged. He comes to loathe Dominick as much as fear him. And then he decides he is capable of creating a much better movie. Arrogant, cruel, out-of-control and almost deranged, Dominick tests Noah’s loyalty and as he does, Noah becomes more and more disillusioned. From there, the narrative descends into increasingly extreme and bizarre acts. The pace quickens in the second half of the novel, the final twist unexpected and arresting, one of those moments that make you want to start back at the beginning to figure out who was justified in doing what.

The architecture of this story is impressive. There is nothing to fault in the plotting and pacing. Written in punchy, upbeat and acerbic prose, Goldberg nails the voice of a washed-up, drugged-up young film director, a style that is self-mocking, self-contemptuous and self-justifying by turns. Stories like Slow Down are not easy to construct; Goldberg is to be commended and displays himself as a formidable literary talent.

Slow Down is ultimately a disturbing morality tale and a meditation on truth, deception and corruption.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.

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Book Review: The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

About The Mentor

Kyle Broder has achieved his lifelong dream and is an editor at a major publishing house.

When Kyle is contacted by his favorite college professor, William Lansing, Kyle couldn’t be happier. Kyle has his mentor over for dinner to catch up and introduce him to his girlfriend, Jamie, and the three have a great time. When William mentions that he’s been writing a novel, Kyle is overjoyed. He would love to read the opus his mentor has toiled over.

Until the novel turns out to be not only horribly written, but the most depraved story Kyle has read.

After Kyle politely rejects the novel, William becomes obsessed, causing trouble between Kyle and Jamie, threatening Kyle’s career, and even his life. As Kyle delves into more of this psychopath’s work, it begins to resemble a cold case from his college town, when a girl went missing. William’s work is looking increasingly like a true crime confession.

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a twisty, nail-biting thriller that explores how the love of words can lead to a deadly obsession with the fate of all those connected and hanging in the balance.

 

My Thoughts

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a tense, dark,  psychological thriller. It starts in the urbane world of an upwardly mobile young professional, and descends, step by terrifying step, into a nightmare world of depravity and murder.  It is a thriller that cuts across genres and works on many levels.  There is a nail-biter of a crime mystery, which keeps the reader hooked from deceptive start to gruelling finish, with twists and turns that leave them wondering what is real and what isn’t.  There is a narrative about relationships and history, as we gradually learn the complex back stories of the main characters and their relationships with each other.  All the characters are interesting and the changes in point of view mean that we see the story in the round, understanding how each of the characters has their own version of the world.  Goldberg is masterful in creating sympathetic characters who are all engagingly imperfect, as well as a deeply worrying villain who none the less has charm and occasionally pathos.

For a lover of books, one of the most entertaining undercurrents of this novel is its running commentary on the production of fiction.  Kyle is a publishing editor; Lansing is a teacher of literature; Kyle has dreamt in the past of writing novels; Lansing still does.  Throughout the novel there is a conversation about how fiction works, richly peppered by references to authors from Edgar Allen Poe to Jean Paul Sartre, Camus to Orwell.  The story in no way depends upon knowing these references, but if you do recognise them, they give an additional depth to the read and each adds a clever counterpoint to the events of the novel.  This production of literature theme operates at a number of different levels, starting at the end point of the commercial publishing house, and gradually stripping the process down, layer by layer,  like a dance of veils, back to the origin of fiction in the darkest psychological secrets.  The opening chapters give a satirical  perspective on the publishing industry, wherein both books and authors are commodities to be cynically traded.  Moving back from this, we see the process of writing a novel – two almost comically different first-time novelists, both struggling to bring their precious works to completion.  Then, as we are drawn into the mind of the terrible William Lansing, we enter an exploration of the dark side of the creative process, the point where reality and fiction intersect.

Most authors of dark books will know that intersection, or at least will recognise the anxious looks on the faces of friends, family, partners, as the nagging question occurs to them.  This dark story, emerging from the mind of someone they have known and trusted:  “How come you have written this? I thought I knew you… Where does this stuff come from?”  The answer in Lansing’s case is far from reassuring – as the narrative moves on, we discover that in his case, the line between reality and dark fantasy is fine to the point of illusory. At times it appears that Lansing’s ghastly novel-within-a-novel is not only recording a real past, implicating both Lansing and Kyle, but also, in some terrifying way, writing their real future. The shocking events at the climax of the story underline that possibility, as does the wicked twist at the end of the book.

Perhaps, in fact, there is no boundary at all.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Thriller-Lee-Matthew-Goldberg/dp/1250083540/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+mentor+lee+matthew&qid=1579824002&sr=8-1

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A Bailey.