Cover image for Swagbelly : a novel for today's gentleman
Swagbelly : a novel for today's gentleman
Levien, David.
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Publication Information:
New York : Plume, 2003.

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231 pages ; 21 cm
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Can $100 million buy respect? Elliot Grubman seems to have a life any other man would envy-unimaginable wealth, bachelor status, and his own magazine, Swagbelly("the magazine for today's gentleman"), which provides him with the companionship of a never-ending succession of Amazonian models with blonde hair, big chests, and tremendous bone structure. Yet, happiness eludes him. His wife left him for her rock-climbing instructor; his thirteen-year-old son refuses to be Bar Mitzvahed and is converting to Catholicism; his girlfriend may or may not be of legal age and may or may not be pregnant; and worst of all, for the last several weeks, Eliot has been unable to "perform." From acclaimed screenwriter and film director DJ Levien, Swagbellyis a wry, erotic, and hilariously satirical tale of a pornographer in search of a decent life.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This gleefully foul-mouthed novel follows the shameless exploits of a men's magazine publisher named Elliot Grubman. The story opens with the newly divorced protagonist engaged in a fit of mournful boasting about his sex life. He has had 35 partners in the space of a year, but even Grubman realizes that he is attractive only because he is absurdly rich; all of his girlfriends also happen to be employees who pose naked for his magazine, Swagbelly. In short, Grubman is a fairly despicable human being, one who leaves notes for his cleaning lady because, "If there is one thing I detest, it is instructing maids in person." Levien, a successful screenwriter (Rounders) and director (Knockaround Guys), puts an intriguing spin on the idea of the antihero. The Larry Flynt-like Grubman is sleazy, to be sure, but he aspires to respectability, and it is this conflict between commerce and karma that gives the novel its spark. A clever morality tale, despite reading on occasion like an overheated letter to Penthouse. --Kevin Canfield Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Screenwriter/director Levien's first novel, Wormwood, mined Hollywood's film community for laughs, love and lampooning. In this sleek new satire, he trains his lens on Elliot Grubman, a fabulously wealthy New York Jewish pornographer whose high-flying, brand-name lifestyle has begun to unravel. Grubman owns both Swagbelly a men's magazine whose quality hovers well below Playboy but above the crudest skin fare and a thriving, cash-gushing sex-talk phone empire. Money aside, Grubman has a fistful of personal problems: he's unhappily divorced; his 13-year-old son has decided to skip his bar mitzvah and convert to Catholicism; his possibly underage girlfriend may be pregnant; and he's having serious performance problems in bed to say nothing of a bum ticker that threatens to send him into infarction at any stressful moment. But Elliot soldiers on, attempting to win back the hearts and minds of his son and his ex-wife by throwing bundles of money at both of them, learning to play polo and attempting sex with the many porn stars who model for his magazine. Elliot tries to enjoy the good life, complete with brand-new socks every morning, custom-made suits, a fleet of exotic automobiles and a leased jet, but somehow all that plus $100 million and a legion of willing pneumatic women just isn't enough. Although desperate and often selfish, he's an engaging character and readers will root for him and wish him success. But the sudden ending has a rushed, tacked-on feel, a major plot thread is left hanging and the whole thing comes to a hopeful conclusion far too easily. It's fun, but a bit more work would have made it better. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved