I haven’t had a good dark noir fiction plot to sink my teeth into for a while. It’s a genre that I enjoy a lot, but perhaps gets overshadowed by mainstream genres like thrillers and contemporary which get the majority of the focus.
Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg is just what I needed – a breath of fresh air. Not to say that I don’t love what I’ve been reading recently, but sometimes you need a change, you know? This one certainly was very different from what I’ve read of late, so I’m glad I got to take part in the book tour from Blackthorn Book Tours to discuss my thoughts on it.
“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’s 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.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Slow Down is one of those books that takes a risk, as the protagonist is by no means a hero. Not even close, really. Noah Spaeth, born into a life of wealth by his eternally absent parents, has so many undesirable qualities. He’s obnoxious, self-absorbed, obsessed with fame, and frankly quite abominable in the way he treats those around him. Yet despite all this, he’s such an interesting character to follow.
I can’t say I liked Noah particularly, and I certainly didn’t identify with him, but I found myself rooting for him all the same. As we go through the book the author drip-feeds glimpses of goodness about him. Every so often we’ll observe a tortured soul, a troubled, conflicted boy within, and it brings out the human in him. The fact that the antagonist is even worse than him also helps, but I don’t think you can solidly hate Noah as somewhere inside of him is a real person with (some) morals.
The other characters are also just as complex as Noah, from childhood best friend Nevie to Dominick’s wife Isadora, both of whom have a big impact on Noah’s motives and actions. Every little thing is so important to the story and I felt the author did this very well. There are many examples of foreshadowing and connecting the dots.
Now onto the writing, a blend of noir and dark satire. Goldberg’s use of descriptive language is excellent, taking the tiniest of moments and making them quite poetic. It’s the sort of book where you’re experiencing everything, living each moment, and it pulls you in so that you can’t (or don’t want to) get back out again. Despite reading this over a week due to time constraints I quite easily could have devoured it in one sitting.
Reading Slow Down took me back to two pieces of literature in particular, both of which are dark noir fiction. One was Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk), which is referenced throughout, and the other was The Dice Man (Luke Rhinehart). Both cult classics, there are real similarities – the social commentaries on society and the problems within, plus of course with The Dice Man there is also a really unlikable protagonist. The other similarity is the content, and Slow Down, like the other two, really doesn’t hold back. With sex, drugs, illicit desires, and everything in between, it’s not what everyone will want to stomach. Yet if you like a book with no inhibitions whatsoever, its brash nature will really pull you in.
Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg is certainly a wild ride. With its fast pace and blunt approach to various topics it’s one of those books that will make quite an impression on you. Given how stark and candid it is there will be people that don’t get on with it at all, but if you love noir-style novels that focus on the darker sides of reality then this will be right up your street.
If you’d like to purchase your own copy of Slow Down then you can do so using the following links:
“Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels SLOW DOWN, THE MENTOR, and THE DESIRE CARD. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. PREY NO MORE, the second book in The Desire Card series, is forthcoming. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script 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 He lives in New York City.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Is dark noir fiction a genre that you enjoy within literature, or perhaps one you haven’t experienced yet? Discuss your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin! You can read some of my other book reviews here: