Selwood, Jonathan

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Selwood, Jonathan


Born in Hollywood, CA. Education: Attended college in VT.


Home—Portland, OR.




The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse: A Novel (P.S.), HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 2007.


Jonathan Selwood notes on his home page that he was born in Hollywood, California, "in what is arguably the most depraved and wantonly hedonistic neighborhood in the world." He was, however, the son of parents "with a strong New England-style Puritan ethic," and when he was ready for college, he headed back East, to Vermont. After graduation Selwood moved to Chiapas, Mexico, to write in an inexpensive environment. It lasted just four months, and he made a complete turnaround in moving to New York City. After five years, he found a middle ground in Portland, Oregon.

Selwood's debut, The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse: A Novel (P.S.), was reviewed by Rochelle Hartman for the Tinfoil Raccoon Web site. Hartman wrote: "Sel- wood gives us a very funny, Vonnegut-flavored read that both embraces and mocks our culture's obsession with celebrity." Protagonist Isabel Ravel is a skilled artist who duplicates works of art, but in doing so replaces the faces with those of celebrities. For example, her Blue Boy is Macaulay Culkin, Scarlett Johansson is the face in Venus on the Half Shell, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are the faces of the farm couple in American Gothic, Martha Stewart is The Scream, and Kurt Cobain appears in The Death of Marat. When she was working for an interior designer who hired her to paint fine art knockoffs for the wealthy, a gay couple who were redoing their home as a Tuscan villa and who were fans of The DaVinci Code asked for a Mona Lisa with the face of Cher. This was the beginning of Isabel's unique line of paintings. On his home page, Selwood provides links to other sites, including one dedicated to Isabel which features some of the paintings mentioned.

Isabel lives in Los Angeles, where her celebrity chef boyfriend Javier is cheating on her with a sixteen-year-old pop star who calls herself the Latina Britney Spears, and her creepy art dealer, Juan, who is given to primal screaming, profanity, and death threats, has posted nude pictures of Isabel on the Internet and is trying to force her to appear in an ad promoting vaginal rejuvenation surgery. Isabel is trying to finish her two newest paintings and prepare for her first solo art show, but she is suffering from stress and losing weight. When the city is hit by a major earthquake, her apartment building falls into a sinkhole, forcing her to move in with her dope-smoking, but loving, hippie parents. Isabel's biggest fan is billionaire philanthropist Alex Tzu, who has purchased her paintings for his raunchy adopted daughter Cordelia, who is prone to breaking the law. Kerrily Sapet reviewed the novel for the BookLoons Web site, noting: "Selwood weaves together all of these characters in a bold, sweeping fashion. The events and individuals are exaggerated to gross stereotypes to achieve the delusional atmosphere of Los Angeles."

The title of the novel is the theory developed by Isabel's astrophysicist father, who has predicted that the world will end on October 9, 2049, when the planets leave their orbits and crash into each other. At first accepted by the scientific community, it was then rejected.

In reviewing The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse for the Blogcritics Web site, Alyse Wax wrote: "Jonathan Selwood shows a lot of promise as a novelist. He has unique, individual characters, great settings … and pure wackiness." "Selwood is a bright, wildly imaginative writer," commented Darcy Cosper in a review for the Los Angeles Times Online, "and when his book isn't threatening to collapse under the weight of its self-congratulatory satire, it dazzles with cleverness." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman wrote of the book's "high appeal for hip young readers attuned to ‘the bittersweet feeling of exhilarated alienation.’" For Selwood Seaman predicted "a bright writing future."



Booklist, June 1, 2007, Donna Seaman, review of The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse: A Novel (P.S.), p. 41.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2007, review of The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse.

Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2007, review of The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse, p. 32.


BookLoons, (February 18, 2008), Kerrily Sapet, review of The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse.

Blogcritics, (July 19, 2007), Alyse Wax, review of The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse.

Jonathan Selwood Home Page, (February 18, 2008).

Los Angeles Times Online, (August 28, 2007), Darcy Cosper, review of The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse.

Tinfoil Raccoon, (July 24, 2007), Rochelle Hartman, "Interview with Jonathan Selwood."