A bullying, megalomaniac Italian film and TV mogul dreams up a multilayered scam to salvage a bad film, but this latest dirty trick could jeopardize his entire murky empire.
Drunk and doped up on cocaine, Oscar Martello is not in the mood to be nagged by his stunning Argentinian wife, Helga: “I have other things on my mind, you bitch. There’s an actress who hates me and has gone missing, and I have no idea what the fuck she’s up to. There’s a piece-of-shit movie that I’m trying to save. There’s a goddamned cop who’s buzzing around me, I don’t know if you’ve noticed?” And there, in a nutshell, is the plot—and tone—of Italian journalist Corrias’ debut novel, an exuberantly vulgar takedown of Rome’s media world as personified by the supremely coarse and corrupt figure of Martello. This lavish portrait of grotesque wealth, manipulation, and moral depravity centers on Martello’s flimsy PR plot to inflate attention for No, I Won’t Surrender! a film starring beautiful, bipolar, pill-popping Jacaranda Rizzi, by sending the actress off to Paris with Martello’s best friend, raising rumors of romance and Mafia kidnapping. But then Jacaranda really does go missing, just as a policeman turns up to investigate Martello’s long history of suspicious financial dealings. Readers less attracted to this harshly comic cast of sleazy characters and their predicaments may be more entertained by Corrias’ descriptions of the lifestyle of the rich and borderline famous, studded with plenty of product placement: watches by Rolex; cars by Jaguar and Bentley. The author delivers his satire on Rome's glamorous but seedy entertainment industry with cheerful tastelessness and matching excess. Does Oscar survive the scandal? Don’t expect a pianissimo final act.
Sensationalism and decadence are pushed to the hilt and then a bit further in this scorchingly cynical, one-note social sendup.