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Palladio Paperback – February 4, 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Our culture propagates no values outside of the peculiar sort of self-negation implied in the wry smile of irony..." according to Mal Osbourne, the iconoclastic advertising genius who founds Palladio, the eccentric Charlottesville, Va., advertising agency in this new novel by Dee (The Lover of History). To fight irony, Mal simply lets his employees, a motley crew of artists and writers, make avant-garde art. He then "allows" companies to attach their names to it. In an unlikely turn of events, the agency soon generates buzz, as does Mal's anti-ironic persona. Mal's troubleshooting assistant, John Wheelwright, has been drawn to Palladio from a Manhattan agency, a move that costs him his girlfriend. John had a deeper relationship in his early 20s, when he was a student at Berkeley, with Molly Howe, a gorgeous, confused girl with a complicated family history. It's John's bad luck when Molly reappears 10 years later, on the arm of her boyfriend, Dexter Kilkenny, a documentary filmmaker. Dex, who secretly loathes Mal Osbourne, has come to Palladio to try to persuade Mal to let him make a film about the agency. Things spin out of control for John when Mal falls for self-destructive Molly, who has become " the kind of woman a certain kind of man will want to wreck himself against." Dee has obviously learned some tricks from Updike, which he puts to good use as a painter of Molly's hometown. An astute observer of contemporary society, he is strikingly perceptive about the secret lives of teenagers, the alienation of the American family, advertising culture and the inescapable moral ambiguities of modern life. Though his message is bleak, his measured, textured prose sustains tension, and the depth and unflinching honesty of his characterizations grant the narrative integrity and strong emotional power. (Jan. 15)Forecast: Touted as a young writer on the rise, Dee seems sure to attract serious critical attention with a novel that's highly relevant to America's new mood of self-assessment. Handselling should attract the attention of sophisticated readers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This is a masterfully rendered novel that examines the dynamics of dysfunctional families, the nature of love and obsession, and the relationship among art, advertising, and commerce. At the novel's center is the failed romantic relationship between John Wheelright, a young advertising executive, and Molly Howe, a mysterious and dangerously troubled woman. The novel is at times humorous, especially in Dee's (St. Famous) portrayal of the deeply cynical world of advertising and of Malcolm Osbourne, the charismatic founder of an avant-garde ad agency called Palladio. Marvelously eccentric, scandalous, and self-absorbed, Malcolm lures John away from his girlfriend and his job at an established and successful agency. At other times, the novel is harrowing, as in Dee's depiction of Molly's childhood. Her parents despise each other, and the silence and bitterness of their marriage create in Molly a desperate loneliness and fear of intimacy. As an adult, she moves from relationship to relationship with a heartbreaking recklessness. Enthusiastically recommended for all libraries. Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375726411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375726415
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,055,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. C. Carrad on February 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think Dee is an excellent writer; his sentences practically spring off the page with intelligence, energy and wit. But much as I enjoyed several of his other novels, I struggled with this one. It was certainly readable in the classic sense, but the satire began to grate and the ending fell flat on many levels. I won't describe the plot since others have done so in detail, but it's a takedown of our modern world and the pretensions that have come to inform so much of what we think, do, purchase and talk about. Much of the focus is advertising gone amuck and I kept thinking of Mad Men and Don Draper as I read about the mad ad genius who is at the center of the plot (and might be Draper's spiritual legacy 2 generations later). The problem is that satire on this level doesn't engage the emotions, only the intellect. The characters feel like caricature stand-ins for various issues or emotions and it's hard to care about them. Molly, one of the main characters, is an annoying cipher -- hard to understand what makes her tick and why she behaves as appallingly as she does. You just want to slap her. And John, the man who loves her, is almost too saintly. So in the end, a frustrating read -- so well-written but somehow so abstract and pointless.
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Format: Paperback
This is a finely wrought novel of love and relationships in the 21st century--with a twist of irony and cynicism. Originating in upstate NY, the story follows John and Molly as their lives collide in an all consuming love affair and the aftermath of Molly's disappearance.

The first story in the novel deals with the unreachable (and unsinkable?) Molly. She is largely apathetic to her life and surroundings, even though she is a femme fatale whom no man seems able to resist. She recognizes her power over men and enjoys eliciting passion and emotion from them, but she seldom has any feelings apart from a gentle curiosity towards those with whom she has sex.

Molly meets John, and she falls in love--albeit in her own way--comfortable in that he demands nothing of her and seems content to spend his life loving her and trying to figure her out. Because she cannot form significant emotional ties to others, even John, she uses her father's nervous breakdown to disappear from John's life--only to reappear in the latter part of the novel that deals with Palladio itself.

Palladio is the company formed with the goal of using art as advertising. There is no pitch to the potential consumer--the company produces art of any kind--be it written or painted, cinematographic, etc. John ends up as a personal executive to Mal, the founder of the company. The idea of getting rid of traditional advertising seems very appealing, and one longs for a world where commercials on television or ads in magazines appeal to our artistic sense instead of trying to "trick" the consumer into purchasing a product.
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Format: Paperback
this book is so well written that the novels i read following didn't have a chance. what is so beautiful and haunting about dee's new novel is the quiet, lurking, lingering feeling of love between two people exclusive of others. not that THE PRIVILEGES is a straight up love story, per se, but more of a study in the juxtaposition of idealized life and realized life. the great thing is this novel isn't a glimpse into a life of privilege so much as it examines the motivation behind having (financial and social) privilege and the choices once you have reached the privileged status. the real guts of the story is the connection and commitment betwixt adam and cynthia morey regardless of their money or status.
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Format: Paperback
"Palladio" held my attention--and held it well. I wish it were a bit more compact (okay, shorter) and the end kind of drifted off for me, but the core elements of "Palladio" are fascinating, particularly the inscrutable Malcolm Osbourne and his ideas about art and advertising. This novel carries a bundle of treasurers. The relationships are taut and vivid. I think Dee's writing style is an acquired taste. He's a big story-teller. He shoots high. He has a feel for big, sweeping moments and "Palladio" has its share of well-pitched drama. Dee's writing includes lots of "telling." It can feel dispassionate at times. (I liked the switch to first-person at the end of this one and don't usually care for such changes.) "Palladio" is about the messages being sent everyday by individuals, corporations and advertisers. It will make you stop and think about the messages you receive every day--which ones you tune out and which ones you agree to contemplate. "Palladio" is about posing and salesmanship and it's about where art and commerce collide.
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