Who is Rodrigo Concepción? He is the world famous man known for his paintings, womanizing, extravagant lifestyle, and personal struggles; a man who could only be brought to life by the imagination of world-renowned Neo-Expressionist painter Domingo Zapata. This contemporary artist who is based in New York City and hails from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, maintains studios in New York, Los Angeles, Venice, Paris and Miami. The Beautiful Dream of Life, available now on Amazon, is his first novel and entree into the world of writing. Lets hope its certainly not his last foray into the publishing world, as Simon & Schuster and Gallery Books have quite the provocateur wordsmith on their hands.

The novel’s main character is loosely based off of author Domingo Zapata’s experiences from living life in the fast lane. In placing famed artist Rodrigo Concepción in a world where his reality and fiction have become distorted and begun to become one in the same, Zapata brings together the the true essence of not only his authentic and personal experiences, but also ones that he has witnessed throughout his rise to the top amongst the A-Listers in addition to the experiences that he created solely for The Beautiful Dream of Life. His debut novel immediately rose to the top of the Amazon Charts on the day of its of release, and has remained there ever since. It’s success is quickly positioning Domingo into becoming a matador of  yet another realm of which he has yet to conquer. Having mastered art, fashion, design, music, and now writing, it then begs the question what is next for the man whose dreams and aspirations literally have no ceiling to them? When I asked Mr. Zapata himself, even he could not provide a definitive answer, as he revels in the surprise and suspense that his each and every move inflicts and entices on his ever expanding loyal army of worshipers and patrons.

Much like the title suggests, the novel deviates back and forth between Mr. Concepción real life in his beautiful multi-million dollar loft in Soho, New York City; and his concurring dream life in Spain where his mind has created a pristine vision of his soulmate, Carlotta. It is the tale as old as time; the story of someone who has everything, all the success in the world and yet still feels empty and alone inside. There is a void that Rodrigo nor his staff of greedy enablers can seem to fill despite their best efforts, leaving Mr. Concepción to resort back into the extravagant party scene that being an A-Lister not only affords himself, but his entourage, lovers, and groupies.

After an all-night bender at an isolated mansion on an island in Miami during Art Basel, Rodrigo escapes with Jazzy, a singer who is a “constant target of the press and the paparazzi, and a lot of it had to do with her own publicity-generating antics.” As the novel progresses deeper the reader begins understand the rationalization in why “troubled” people often gravitate towards one another, especially in the world of celebrity. For a tortured artist is who awoken daily by his butler with pills and vitamins after his nightly heavy partying, its no surprise he would seek the company of a pop singer who has “swung through romances and relationships, and had been in and out of rehab for drugs and alcohol.” Perhaps it is the combination of the influence of the drugs, alcohol, and lust that bring the two of them to tempt the fate of Jazzy being seen out in a way too public scene as explosive as Art Basel, let alone be seen with Rodrigo himself.

Despite all of his trappings of success, the women, the money, and the fame, Rodrigo is an insecure man who happens to have become one of the most well known artists in the world; albeit much to his discomfort. A profusion of people adore him and his work, but true love has eluded him. As he is becoming more and more aware that he is not remembering his dreams despite knowing he dreams vividly nightly, he begins to ponder if perhaps it is a way of his mind protecting him from himself and “rejecting unsettling nocturnal visions, and surreal, eerie fantasies.” There is one thing that is abundantly clear throughout the duration of the novel, which is that Rodrigo just wanted someone to love him unconditionally. Untrusting of motives and behaviors of those closest to him, when he is alone he is locked within his mind in a private hell where he lies in pieces. As the days go by and both insomnia and a back-alley Michael Jackson style sleep-center take claim over Rodrigo’s psyche, the revelations of where he begins to feel he should be living his life and where his heart should belong are shocking.

Once he’s back inside of his dreams he is reunited with his love Carlotta, not only deeply in love with this beautiful woman but with the idyllic life they have created “together” in Spain. Therein lies the problem, once he awakes his sense of emptiness disappears, but he quickly realizes that Carlotta, who only exists in his dreams, has taken over his mind, body, and soul. The Beautiful Dream of Life is a twisted love story about beautiful people with beautiful problems. You have an artist recognizable anywhere around the world who has to determine if he can runaway with his true love or go back to reality and maintain his life in the spotlight that has lost it’s luster, producing his art that has lost all of its meaning, and remain surrounded by the sycophants that seemingly control his every move and everything around him.

While he hides his deep frustration  from his hoards of admirers, lovers, and employees, his fascination in being with his perfect woman that his mind has created only pushes him to deeper into his descent into madness. For Mr. Concepción the lines between what is real and what is not are fading away at an alarming rate, leaving him with a decision about what he truly wants, a decision that will alter the rest of his entire life and career. Does he descend deeper down the rabbit hole into his fictional world with Carlotta, the woman of his dreams and who only exists there, or swiftly return to his “Soho Daze”, semi-sanity, global success, and ultimately the life that he was destined for?

Simon & Schuster proclaims that Domingo Zapata has “the satirical edge of Bret Easton Ellis’s Glamorama and the diffuse beauty of Hubert Selby Jr.’s classic Requiem for a Dream, The Beautiful Dream of Life is at once an ethereal, captivating, and wildly compelling story of hard-edged desire and carnal creativity, from one of the most successful painters of our time.”

“In your dreams, everything is possible.”

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