Status Quo by Henry Mosquera

statusquoLemat is living every writer’s nightmare: the starving artist, unknown and unheralded. He hits such rock bottom that he attempts suicide, splits up with a girlfriend and gets fired from his job. He then meets Guy, a talent agent who urges him to write something lurid and incendiary, which is more like doing a deal with the devil. Selling out his artistic soul works: he becomes famous and controversial, lands a 6-figure publishing contract, but comes to realize that compromising one’s integrity also comes at a great price.

In this day and age, with so many writers and artists clawing to be seen, Status Quo really hits home. Every writer, or really an artist of any kind, has dreamed about success. As the old adage goes, “More money, more problems,” and the same concept is mined here about artistic success. It is also an effective commentary on mainstream tastes. Lemat only becomes successful once he sells out completely. Is it worth it, and what does success mean if terrible work rises to the top?

Given these heady issues, the novel could become preachy or overbearing, railing against the mainstream and making grand declarations about “true art.” This isn’t the case with Status Quo. It never loses its sense of humor, and the commentary is incisive. Ultimately, it’s an uplifting and hopeful novel, which solidifies Mosquera as a major writer to watch.