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“Pure literary entertainment . . . Palladio has narrative drive and energy, dramatic characters and conflicts, easygoing prose . . . humor and drama.” –The Denver Post
“Dee unites a gripping love story with an ambitious novel of ideas.” –Newsday
“In gorgeous language, hypnotic as a fairy tale . . . Palladio takes the moral temperature of our times.” –Newark Star-Ledger
“Palladio shocks, delights and invigorates.” –The Seattle Times
“Dee is always able to locate the abstract in the concrete. . . . A Tribeca studio or a small town abortion clinic or a Christian cultist sermon, are all equally interesting to him, and his clear, understated prose gives them a precise fictional life.” –The Boston Phoenix
“Robustly imagined.” –Time Out New York
“Dee perceptively explores the reciprocity of private manias and decadent social trends . . . dramatizing piquant questions of authenticity and mendacity, purity and depravity, leadership and despotism, love and manipulation.” –Booklist
I was casting about for a way to write fictionally about what I think of as a particularly charismatic American phenomenon, the entrepreneur-as-social-visionary: people like Edison Project founder Chris Whittle, or Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, tycoons who find in the profit motive a pure and sincere and even somewhat selfless philosophical impetus to change the way we live.... And then one evening, six or seven years ago, I sat in an audience listening to an address by Oliviero Toscani, the Italian artist best known as the creative force behind the notoriously provocative global advertising campaigns of Benetton International -- ads which, he was proud to say, had been censored all over the world. To Toscani, anyone who claimed to detect some impurity in the capitalist wellspring of his socially conscious visual art was simply in the grip of a pathetically backward, Romantic mind-set as to what art consists of in the first place. "What I do," he told us sternly, with a conviction that was breathtakingly counterintuitive, "is not advertising." By the end of that hour, I had my inspiration.
While it would have been easy, I suppose, to do some research and learn more about Mr. Toscani himself, it would also have been a huge mistake; for when it comes to patterning the world of a novel after real-life people and places, I've learned, it's better to know a little than to know a lot. Leaning on the real is an imaginative trap: It saddles you with something to be faithful to, it compromises the self-generating nature of the story itself, it sets the stubborn, needling claims of memory against your very instinct to invent. In the end, Mal Osbourne bears no resemblance at all (beyond one or two sentences of dialogue) to Mr. Toscani; he has left the husk of his inspiration behind and become, I hope, a compelling figure in his own right. In fact, I can only half remember, at this point, what Mr. Toscani even looks like. But often, in the earliest stages of writing, what helps get you going is neither the real nor the invented, but the half-remembered. That one hour gave me what I really needed -- not a model for a character, but an idea, a kind of moral and intellectual seedling from which a compelling character might grow.
As for the other major plot element of Palladio -- the story of a love broken up by circumstances, and the lovers' unexpected chance, many years later, to pick up where they left off -- it has a more personal root; about which I will say only that one of the fundamental pleasures of fiction writing is the opportunity it provides to take the petty injuries of our youth and blow them up to the unrecognizably epic scale we have secretly always felt they deserved. (Jonathan Dee)
Posted May 12, 2002
Posted March 27, 2002
An avante garde novel that intertwines a lost-love story with a look at the world of advertising and its effect on the masses. Mr Dee writes in a fresh, thought provoking way that lets the story develop smoothly and sweeps the reader along. A book whose characters stay with you days after you finish it. Highly recommended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.