From Publishers Weekly
Portentously taking its section epigraphs from Calder¢n de la Barca and Dante, Dorfman's latest novel is a slender allegory based on nothing less than the conditions of reality in contemporary capitalist culture. Graham Blake is the owner of Clean Earth, a company that manufactures health foods and nutritional supplements. His ex-wife, Jessica Owens, is a brilliant bio-engineer who has invented many of the pills Clean Earth sells. Blake is at a particularly difficult point in his career. The company is threatened with a takeover by a villainous tycoon, Hank Granger, and the board wants Blake to close down a factory in Philadelphia. To cope with his stress, he puts himself in the hands of Dr. Carl Tolgate, whose psychotherapy owes more to The Truman Show than to Freud. Tolgate arranges things so Blake is able to spy on and covertly control a family that works at his Philadelphia factory. Blake falls in love with the daughter, Roxanna, but his interventions eventually drive her to attempt suicide. In the nick of time, he pierces the barrier between surveillance and real life, only to discover that Roxanna and her family are actors hired by Tolgate. Blake's reaction is to try to find the real family upon which Roxanna's fake family is based. Dorfman's larger point is that compassion subordinated to the drive for maximizing profit is a neutered virtue, but it's a point better conveyed in an essay. Dorfman's characters are wooden, his story veers laughably between clich and implausibility, and his insights into the psychological motivations of CEOs are dubious at best. (May 8)Forecast: Always juggling literary, political and cultural issues he is perhaps best known for How to Read Donald Duck, a defiant political satire Dorfman fumbles here. Those loyal to the causes he espouses will attend readings on his nine-city author tour, but negative reviews will discourage the general reading public. Spanish edition published simultaneously by Seven Stories.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A celebrated activist and intellectual survivor, Dorfman (The Nanny and the Iceberg), who is a native Argentinian and naturalized Chilean now residing in the Unites States, here confronts the implications of global consciousness and the culture of voyeurism. In order to provide his hero with the believable trappings of an entrepreneurial landscape, Dorfman, like an anthropologist stalking bizarre customs and rituals, actually attended sessions of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. The CEO of an international company, 43-year-old protagonist Graham Blake already has a will leaving 80 percent of his fortune to charities that support the homeless, inner-city kids, and rain forest ecology. Married to a geneticist who is herself a candidate for a double Nobel in medicine and chemistry, he is one businessman dedicated to making the world a better place. But when Blake's company takes a nosedive, scumbag Hank Granger mounts a hostile takeover, and Blake takes a tumble as well. His headaches and insomnia lead him to the Corporate Life Therapy Institute, at which point the novel becomes an allegorical thriller. The strange, even "murderous" (as Graham calls them) methods Dr. Tolgate uses to rehabilitate him cause a power struggle between Graham, Tolgate, and the mysterious woman Tolgate assigns to attend him, which jolts Blake back to self-sufficiency. A masterly exploration of reality and dreams, power and identity, this novel will appeal particularly, but not exclusively, to readers of psychological intrigue. Jack Shreve, Allegany Coll. of Maryland, Cumberland, MD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.