The Sabbatical – by Frederick Pinto
For something so prevalent in our daily lives, it’s a wonder that a novel hasn’t been written about it before. Hype Machine, Soundcloud, Pandora, Spotify, the list goes on: companies which harnessed the demand for music at our fingertips – for free and without the trip to HMV – whilst propelling the careers of musicians who typically never had a chance in hell to ‘make it’.
In an age where nothing stuns or captivates us for more than a few seconds, and the glow of LCD screens illuminate our faces at every possible free moment, The Sabbatical is a novel that is a long time coming. Following the serendipitous story of a young music entrepreneur who was at the right place at the right time, The Sabbatical is what you might call an existential, more philosophical version of Entourage, but without Turtle or the gratuitous display of wealth and objectification of women.
In his first literary effort, Frederick Pinto – an entertainment lawyer from Montreal – gives a visceral and contemplative look into an industry that is infamous for its superficial and excessive qualities. The story follows Charles Barca as he goes from CEO of a successful internet music label to being ousted from the company he built, dumped by his social-climbing girlfriend, and ostracized from the industry within a matter of days.
Reeling from his fall, our protagonist then embarks on a destructive drug- and booze-filled journey of self discovery on a global scale – from NYC to Cannes to Prague and eventually Rio. Charles is a person you might typically loathe, but his razor-sharp satirical observations of the music industry and the absurdity of contemporary culture are so apt that he somehow becomes likeable. His journey and subsequent epiphany reaffirms the notion that travelling away from your comfort zone and re-examining it from afar can not only change your views, but also strengthen your character.
With striking imagery, witty and often dark prose, The Sabbatical is an insider look into an industry that at once fascinates and disgusts. Pinto has captured a moment in time that will be likened to the heyday of yuppies on Wall Street in the 80’s and the Gatsbies of the roaring twenties.
A commendable first effort, this book could be converted quite seamlessly into a screen play and I wouldn’t be surprised if it appeared on silver screens near you, complete of course with a tailored soundtrack and an amazing social media campaign.