THE BRUSH OFF - Shane Maloney

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

The things a ministerial assistant must do. Murray Whelan's exact job title and the details of his expected duties have never been fully explained but they certainly call for a deft kind of versatility in adapting to all possible situations a Labor party man might find himself inserted into. In yet another show of party shuffling, Murray's boss Angelo Agnelli has picked up the Arts portfolio, and Agnelli's need to endear himself to a new brand of people has now become Murray's personal headache. With suitable gothic dramatism, a failed artist has chosen the first day of Agnelli's new reign to off himself in the moat of an arts building, leaving behind a likewise dramatically worded suicide note which of course blames someone else for the necessity of the deed.

Being rather sceptical that anyone could be willing to die for their art these days, and with the thought that making a public comment about the lack of Government funding is rather pointless once you're dead (as in not being there to reap any possible changes or benefits as a result of your stunt), Murray rolls out the rolodex and gives himself a crash course on the fine art of receiving an arts grant. There's a lot of re-appearing names in all of this, and somehow it all comes to Murray being trapped in a closet, listening to someone else's bump'n'grind. Throw in a feared face from Murray's childhood, more than one smarmy arts patron, the usual various little toadies and conniving blood-suckers out to silence any who dares to question their mechanations and there you have it, just another day in the life of the unappreciated, the world of the Labor party underclass.

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Angelo Agnelli has been Minister for the Arts for twelve hours and already artists have started killing themselves. Or so it seems when Marcus Taylor's body is fished from the Arts Centre moat.

Was it really an act of protest over the state of arts funding? And what's the political damage if the suicide note becomes public?

The career of Murray Whelan, minder and general dogsbody to the hapless Agnelli, hangs by its usual slender thread. If he can put the fix in here, he might have a chance of staying employed.

But as Murray soon discovers, in the world of culture vultures they don't just sit around waiting for you to die before they start tearing the flesh off your bones.

Review THE BRUSH OFF - Shane Maloney
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

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