Top critical review
SO sloppy it doesn't matter how well he writes
on May 5, 2002
Krapenc has pointed out one of many, many errors in reference that cannot be chalked up to artistic license, but merely bad homework on Mr. Dee's part, incompetent editing on the part of Doubleday, or both. Watching Dynasty in the 70s? Tuning into an Albany college station when Ulster picks up SUNY New Paltz? The wrong Morrisey lyrics for a song not yet released (Morrisey's "Every Day Is Like Sunday" before the Smiths even broke up) The NY office of DDB as "Needham"? (No one who ever worked there ever acknowledged the merger.) The subway going from Chambers to Wall Street as consecutive stops? Then there's the Darrin Stevens-meets-Amanda-Woodward-like depictions of advertising: Art Directors as "Artists" and Creative Director as "AD"? No account people, but a planner? A completely implausible new business pitch process? (I know you have issues with the advertising industry, but do your damn homework on the business.) A group of teenage girls into Elvis Costello AND Duran Duran in the mid-80s? Camus and Marquez for the AP English test, which tests British and American Literature? The Creative Revolution in "full flower" in 1969? (Nearly over by then). No old buildings in downtown Omaha? (One of the two major hotels is Art Deco, and I've never seen a cowboy hat in the city limits.) "Nine hours in the air" from SFO to Albany via LaGuardia, which doesn't take transcontinental flights? (West-east is 5 hours with a 40 minute connection). Interstate 80 through Charlottesville? I could keep going, but the point is this: from an author who writes an essay decrying the appropriation of historical characters out of context (sorry, Shakespeare) and another lamenting advertising's appropriation of culture (you too, Jay Chiat), Dee's misappropriations betray a distracting hypocrisy that make his otherwise well-written novel unreadable. The slippery line between self-referential irony and self-referential honesty implies an understanding of irony on a par with Alanis Morrisette. At least Franzen and Foster Wallace get their references right, even when they fictionalize the rest. Reminds me of the advertising creatives he refers to who refuse to change a word of their 'art' even if it's factually incorrect. Cultural denizens call this "stylized"; those who have to ply their wares for commercial gain call it an FTC investigation.