Boogie-Woogie

FlashdanceIn 1983 Adrian Lyne made a movie that acknowledge and legitimized the focus of Americans on cinema and art in general. The movie was Flashdance and it wasn’t important for the skill Jennifer Beals exhibited while removing her bra beneath a baggy sweatshirt but rather for the technique of not waiting for the typical viewer to lose interest in a scene: by cutting quickly from one view to the next, one character to the next, one narrative to the next, there was no time left to be bored.

This was in theory the birth of the MTV generation?

I recently read the novel Boogie-Woogie by Danny Moynihan. Moynihan wrote this novel based on his experiences in the art world, or more specifically, in the art gallery world (he now runs a very successful scaffolding company in Great Britain … I wonder if there’s a novel in that?). His work has been likened to Gary Indiana: bold, scathing, funny, and disturbing. I can see why the comparison was made but it is weak at best.

MondrianThe Boogie-Woogie of the title in from the Mondrian pieces, especially Broadway Boogie-Woogie. The flow of the narrative might well be compared to the painting. But I consider Flashdance a better model. Furthermore, much like my response to the movie, I’m not sure I accept the technique of the novel. Specifically, the reader is not forced to endure more than a few lines of text before the narrative shifts, jumps, swings around, and basically redirects the reader’s attention.

This type of “shuffled narrative” has its place and can be very effective but when used for the entire novel, it begins to grow tiresome. I suspect many readers may loose their way, get confused, miss important plot points, simply because the author jumps around so much. Still, the novel was pleasant, not always nice, and gave a good picture of the art world of the ’80s and ’90s. Moynihan reminded me of David Lodge in his writing style and I say that as a compliment.

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