Anne Denoon's debut novel, Back Flip, transports the reader back to the Toronto art scene circa 1967, and to the comic machinations that swirl around a new painting, also called Back Flip. As the events unfold, the novel's eye changes regularly, switching the narrative in turn to each of its central players. The cast includes Bob Willard, the "has-been, perhaps never-was" who spends mornings teaching art and afternoons drinking with his more successful colleagues, Tom Dale, the "grizzled patriarch of Canadian art," Bruno Gonzaga, a neophyte art dealer struggling for respect, and Win Beecham, a contemporary of Dale's who is still seeking success and approval that seems increasingly elusive as the years slip away. Also lending their POV are the painfully unsure Jane, Gonzaga's semi-pretty receptionist, a sort of '60s Bridget Jones, and the stylish Eleanor Zettler, wife of wealthy art collector Jerry Zettler, a Mrs. Robinson type seeking offers on her fading beauty. And finally we have Eddie O'Hara, the young genius who creates Back Flip, the masterpiece around which the story revolves.
After a successful O'Hara show at Gonzaga's gallery, Back Flip becomes a sensation, attracting the attention of Quinton Margrave, a sexually ambiguous British curator. But when the painting mysteriously disappears, it sets off a chain of events that involves the usual sordid behaviour: deception, violence, forgery, infidelity, and vandalism. Denoon entertainingly portrays the era's innocent experiments with free love and drugs as well as the fickle nature of creation. The result is a cross between a soap opera and a crime story, with enough comic flourishes to resemble a Mel Brooks script. --Moe Berg
`The ensemble cast of this first novel ... is ... constantly on the make -- for sex, social advantage, financial gain or some combination thereof. In other words, they're exceedingly entertaining.... The moral of the story is that there isn't any -- and that's part of the wicked charm of this satirical romp, which mixes insights on the politics of influence and of intimacy with a gossipy, buoyant insouciance.'(Barbara Carey Toronto Star)
`The Sixties, though much written about, are not easy to get right in fiction or film.... What Denoon brings to the mix is what was missing at the time: wisdom.... [Her] portrait of the tight, incestuous world that formed the Toronto art scene in '67 thoughtfully skewers it, while magically bringing it to life.'(Nancy Wigston Books in Canada)
`Toronto visual artists and mavens who came of age in the late 1960s will likely find Anne Denoon's first novel a delight -- when they're not cringing at its satiric pricks.... Gender disparities and furtive sex-capades are recurring motifs, pursued with a keen, sometimes touching eye for the ridiculous.'(Jim Bartley Globe & Mail)
`Denoon does a remarkable job of mixing and matching her creations ... as assignations go wrong and flirtatious behaviours and sexual innuendoes are misinterpreted.... There is a forgery, a painting is vandalized, there are at least two deaths, and the pretentious art community is wickedly satirized in an entertaining manner.'(W.P. Kinsella Books in Canada)
`The novel explores, perhaps explodes is a better term, the idea of value in art by playing a kind of mystery with a painting and its copy. Egotistical artists make for good stories, and this novel is no exception.'(Antanas Sileika CBC Hot Type)
`Anne Denoon really knows how to take you back.... [She] is skilled at evoking the time and place.... Denoon also knows something about art, how it's dealt, how talent often doesn't matter and how success can be based on a fluke. Definite fun.'(Susan G. Cole Now) See all Product Description