Cover image for Dead stars : an entertainment
Dead stars : an entertainment
Wagner, Bruce, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Plume, [2012]

Physical Description:
604 pages ; 22 cm
Traces the experiences of very young breast cancer survivor Telma, who crosses paths with actor Michael Douglas during the latter's efforts to achieve his professional dream against a backdrop of riotous Hollywood culture.
General Note:
On t.p., the word, "star" is represented by a star symbol.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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" Dead Stars is the London Fields of Los Angeles, the Ulysses of TMZ culture--an immensely literate, fearsomely interior novel about people who are neither."--Tom Bissell, GQ

At age thirteen, Telma is famous as the world's youngest breast cancer survivor until threatened with obscurity by a four-year-old who's just undergone a mastectomy.... Reeyonna believes that auditioning for pregnant teenage porn will help fulfill her dream of befriending Kanye West.... Jackie, a photographer once celebrated for arty nudes of her young daughter, is working at a Sears Family Portrait boutique.... And Oscar-winning Michael Douglas searches for meaning while his wife, Catherine, guest-stars on Glee .

Moving forward with the inexorable force of a tsunami, Dead Stars is Bruce Wagner's most lavish and remarkable translation yet of the national zeitgeist: post-privacy porn culture, a Kardashianworld of rapid-cycling, disposable narrative where reality-show triumph is the new American narcotic.

Author Notes

The author of the novels FORCE Majeure and I'M LOSING YOU and creator of televisions critically acclaimed "Wild Palms." He writes films and has directed four volumes of Carlos Casteneda's "Tensegrity" series. He wrote and directed the film adaptatiion of I'M LOSING YOU, which was released by Lion's Gate Films in 1999. He lives in Los Angeles.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hollywood, home to the truly famous, newly famous, and nearly famous, where the pursuit of one's 15 seconds, let alone 15 minutes, of fame is mercurial and myopic. Screenwriter Wagner capitalizes on his insider status to create a creepy underworld populated by marginal denizens whose fascination with and emulation of A-to-Z-list personalities provides their sole raison d'etre. Twisting the already convoluted tales of tween cancer survivor Telma and her mother, Gwen; Jerilynn, aka Reeyonna, and her middle school-dropout baby-daddy, Rikki; and Jerzy, Jerilynn's paparazzi brother, and Jacquie, their notorious photographer mother, Wagner skewers the celebrification of causes and the pornography of People-to-Post publicity. Supporting roles by Michael Douglas and Steve Martin and cameos by the Kardashians lend a tarnished verisimilitude to a salacious expose of a sordid and seedy subculture obsessed with reality-TV pseudostars and the fast track to fame. Though a sharp and clever observer whose pun-omenal wordplay makes for frenetic reading, Wagner's gritty and sexually explicit satire is not for the faint of heart.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Wagner's latest "entertainment" (after Memorial), aging, struggling screenwriter Bud Wiggins (from Wagner's debut, Force Majeure) is tapped to script a film for 12-year-old Biggie Brainard, the damaged brain behind booming Ooh Baby Baby productions. Biggie yearns for his mother and tracks her online as she spelunks the caves of the world. Bud lives with his mother, Dolly, and longs for the day she dies. Their chapters are braided with that of other Hollywood stars and black holes: Michael Douglas dreams of remaking All That Jazz, with a few major changes. Reeyonna, a pregnant teen, runs away from her mother, Jacquie (a Sally Mann-like artist-cum-Sears-Portrait-Studio photographer), with her "pharaoh-looking" boyfriend, Rikki-a foster kid, aspiring actor, and porn addict-to live with female American Idol reject, drug dealer, and sex fiend Tom-Tom, who's squatting in Betty White's house with Reeyonna's half-brother Jerzy, "the first snatcherazzo" to get a photo of Dakota Fanning stepping out of a vehicle, sans panties. Jerzy's addiction to "bootie bumpin" (meth and water applied anally) fuels a diabolical word-play and deepening delusion that Eminem is slowly enslaving the world. Written in hyper-hilarious, brilliant prose, the book renders an obsessive pop-culture nightmare of surprising realism and light, illuminating the meanest corners of its characters'-and our culture's-desperation. Agent: Andrew Wylie. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Covering almost every aspect of the American fame machine, Wagner's (Memorial) latest novel pulls no punches in its presentation of a culture high on celebrity and overdosing on its own supply. Pregnant teen Jerilynn rechristens herself Reeyonna, as if naming herself after the singer is an adequate substitute for talent and a reason to be famous. Her brother Jerzy works as a specialized paparazzo, taking honey shots (upskirt photos) of barely legal actresses while having drug-addled visions of a racially segregated entertainment conspiracy run by the rapper Eminem. Telma, the world's (second) youngest breast cancer survivor, clings to her slim claim to fame after being usurped by a toddler. This description barely scratches the surface of a heartbreaking yet laugh-out-loud story, as nearly a dozen principal characters navel-gaze their lives away for a fleeting chance to be a part of Hollywood. Verdict With his huge cast, sly wit, and vicious social commentary, Wagner is a 21st-century Charles Dickens-if Dickens wrote about Internet porn. His book is highly recommended as this generation's Less Than Zero.-Pete Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.