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2.1 out of 5 stars
2.1 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on April 7, 2002
I read the first eight or nine pages of this book standing up at the bookstore before I bought it. I found Dee's imagery and language to be very fluid and graceful. Truly a poetic masterpiece.
When I read a paragraph on page 52, I was saddened to learn that Dee doesn't seem to care about his craft the way I think he should. Though admittedly NOT a major plot hole, I find it disconcerting that the author did not research his elements fully. Am I the only person who knows that the popular board game "Sorry" does NOT have a popomatic bubble?
I'm not suggesting that Dee does not know how to write. But I do think that Dee should stick with what he knows. And if he's not prolific in the world of board games, then he should either play the game and learn the rules, or change the situation such that it involves elements he DOES know.
Unfortunately, I am unaware how the book turns out. I couldn't get past that paragraph. A paragraph that was, otherwise, lyrical.
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on February 11, 2002
This is everything a novel should be. Although at first glance the subject and characters were far from my usual interests, I was pulled into it and rapidly became entranced by it. It has many dimensions, is flawlessly written and structured, and transforms you. In some respects it is an extended meditation on Jack Kerouac's On The Road, which is central to the theme, but it is hard to characterize the whole book as it is bigger than any simplistic summary. The author understands Madison Avenue, the enigmatic rich, thirty-something bright but warped people, and much more and is able to make them come alive. In many ways this is a sad book. There are five sets of parent/child relationships at all stages of life, from infancy to the death or disintegration of parents in old age, explored in some depth, all different, all seriously flawed and at times heartbreaking. The author needs to break away from the lingering university scene (too much of the book is set at Berkeley, NYU, Columbia, Spokane, and Charlottesville) but this is not irritating as he gently deflates the pomposities of each place and all feel different in his descriptions.
May Dee live a thousand years and write a thousand books every year. Buy it at once; you will not be disappointed.
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on January 9, 2004
I loved the premise of the book, the idea of creating serious art without using irony, but it really didn't feel like this book was ultimately about that. It was really more of this love story between a character I really liked (John) and a character I initially liked (Molly) but who became more thoughtless, unreasonable and selfish as the book wore on.
I was very dissatisfied by the end. Nothing changed with most characters, which was infuriating after all the havoc they wreaked on other people's lives, and the one character I did like seemed to have lost virtually everything. I never could understand what in the world was wrong with the Howe family, particularly what would drive both kids to never speak with their family members again. I don't feel like I understood who anyone in that family really was. And I didn't understand what on earth that message gibberish interspersed at the end was. Worse, I didn't even care anymore.
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on April 29, 2002
I had high hopes for this one. While I really didn't like The Lover of History, I loved The Liberty Campaign (also about advertising) and liked St. Famous. But Palladio is just not successful, for a number of reasons. For one, the female characters seem rather interchangable, which is a big pet peeve of mind. Another more basic issue, at least for me, is that the story just didn't seem plausible. It's difficult for me to believe that these "revolutionary" PR campaigns would've worked. Another reason that the novel failed for me was that Mal, the character who was supposed to be this fascinating enigma, was just a big yawn. Finally, I found the change in tense halfway through the novel distracting and fairly pointless. So a big Thumbs Down for this one. Read The Liberty Campaign instead
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on April 15, 2003
Maybe I'm just a counter-contrarian, but Palladio isn't half as bad as many of the reviews posted would suggest. (Neither is it as good as much of the hype to which people are reacting suggested.) Rather, it's a perfectly decent, fast-moving, entertaining story about reasonably rounded characters working in the fairly interesting world of modern-day advertising. Does Palladio achieve the author's transparent ambitions for it? Not by a long shot. Will it change your life? No. On the other hand, it's a decent book and might -- might -- get you to think about some pretty obvious media-related issues that are at least worth considering.
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on March 6, 2002
This book hooked me from the start. The premise was unique, the topics current and of interest to me, the characters well developed. I spent my entire weekend with them, genuinely concerned about where this story would take them next....UNTIL (argh!)...the ending. I found the conclusion odd, "gimmicky" and unsatisfying. It was a big let down after such a satisfying story.
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on April 30, 2002
A nice, if self-indulgent and hugely precious, read until the ending. What a waste of time! 400 pages, yuk. No more Jonathan Dee the Great American Writer for me.
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on February 17, 2003
It is very simple: Don't buy this book! Dee's "talent" is very well disguised indeed. He is lazy, sloppy and craftless. It doesn't even deserve the one star I was forced to give it!
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