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Death by Leisure: A Cautionary Tale Hardcover – February 3, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Upon return from embedded duty in Iraq with a marines unit, Ayres, a British journalist, chronicles his brief visit to Los Angeles, the land of glam and glitz. This gonzo-influenced volume opens with Ayres (War Reporting for Cowards) getting the sultry once-over from a beauty in a white bikini at poolside, and everything goes wacky and downhill from there with a bogus assignment to cover singer Michael Jackson, his Neverland estate and his sleepovers. Ayres marvels at the perpetually sunny weather of the sci-fi metropolis, and the Tinseltown crowd of Beverly Hill princesses, plum-cheeked hedonists, journalists with notebooks and bad breath, fleets of android publicists, the rich, the very rich. Ayres makes note of this life of excess, eco disasters and obsession with physical perfection. Producing a topsy-turvy carnival ride of a book, Ayres knows how to find the laughs and fantasy in this accomplished satire of Los Angeles. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"War Reporting for Cowards reminded me of the granddaddy of the genre, Evelyn Waugh's novel Scoop, and that Ayres's book can be mentioned in the same sentence is a tribute. . . . ChronicleÝs many of the absurdities, horrors, and discomforts of life during wartime circa two years ago, and the honor and steadfastness of the men and women who have to endure them." -- Gary Shteyngart
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080211881X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802118813
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,213,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Ayres is a contributing editor at The Sunday Times Magazine (London) and British GQ, and the author of four books, including War Reporting for Cowards, which he is currently adapting for television. His other books include two New York Times bestsellers with Ozzy Osbourne: I Am Ozzy, winner of the Literary Achievement honor at the 2010 Guys' Choice Award, and Trust Me, I'm Dr Ozzy, based on Chris's long-running column with Ozzy in Rolling Stone.

Chris lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When journalist Chris Ayres arrives in Los Angeles after his misadventures as a war reporter (see War Reporting for Cowards), he writes that his plan "was to max out on leisure (and) binge on self-gratification, until I could take it no more." He does a pretty good job of that, but ironically seems to enjoy retelling the early years and his escapades (including forking over thousands on Ebay for tickets to a hilarious bizarre Michael Jackson party at Neverland) more than he enjoyed the first had experiences themselves.

Ayres was probably the ideal choice of reporter to cover a world as quirky and sometimes downright surreal as L.A. and Hollywood. And the memoir he has produced of his first few years in la-la land will make you laugh out loud while simultaneously wincing in agonized recognition: you realize that you and everyone you know has made at least some of Ayres's idiotic mistakes. Racking up credit card debt on food delivery services, spending so much on a high-definition flat-screen television so that he can't afford to pay his rent, and ultimately buying a house using some of that now-infamous floating-rate mortgage financing.... It seems there is scarcely a single foible that Ayres avoided. He even starts driving a block or two to pick up his morning coffee, instead of walking.

But then, as Ayres cheerfully admits, he's a big fan of American culture - particularly the part of it that allows people to understand the risks of their behavior - and then ignore them. He's ruthlessly honest about his own mistakes.
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1 Comment 6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Ayres the LA correspondent for The Times (London) has certainly lived an interesting life in this his second book he details his move to LA and the way he was swept along with the lifestyle and the creative mortgage broker who got him finance for his house. If you buy this book you need to get War Reporting for Cowards as well as they go well together and both are very enjoyable. How many journalists have been sent to LA and Iraq by their employer and then meets his wife via Craiglist while selling a sofa. If you like books and have a sense of humour then get this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Considering the other reviews, I have to offer an obvious caveat: maybe I'm not hip enough to appreciate this book. What others found humorous, entertaining and satirical, I found annoying and pompous.

This guy is a self-involved dolt who loves to name drop and is impossible to root for. Consequently, his "messages" about greed and consumerism come off as trite and disingenuous.

To me, this was pure blathering from a clueless, self-involved twenty-something. Oh sure, just blame Alan Greenspan for everything. He MADE you buy a house you couldn't afford......
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Format: Hardcover
It's the perfect description of Los Angeles in the early 00's. Also frequently laugh-out-loud funny, charming, and yet oddly hopeful, Ayres does a wonderful job with this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Amazing book, hilariously funny, and so damn timely. I loved his first book, but really this one just blows my mind - his date at Neverland?!? met his wife on craigslist buying furniture? and the idea of our leisurely society and "yuppy" guilt is so timely.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a tale of a British journalist, Chris Ayers, who comes to Los Angeles during the property boom of the 2000s. He gets caught up in the rampant conspicuous consumption in consumer durables, property and entertainment. Not that LA had a monopoly in these but LA did have the disease in a more serious form than the rest of the nation during the period. This book attempts to tell the tale of this conspicuous consumption. Mr. Ayers going on a spending spree consisting of plasma TVs (they went for about $4,000 grand when they first came out), Land Rovers, luxury apartments and Hollywood style parties. He describes not only his prolific consumption and materialism but also those around him.

To some degree this is amusing. To some degree it is also ironic. Unfortunately it is not enough. Plus it is way over the top in its descriptions of what really happens. This exaggeration really takes away from the narrative in that it reduces the author's credibility. The reader just can never be sure where reality leaves off and exaggeration begins. In addition, the book does have some wit but the problem is, like the degree of amusement and irony it offers, it just does not offer enough.

In short a book that is only somewhat amusing, witty and ironic with too much exaggeration and a resulting lack of credibility that prevents a reader from taking it too seriously. Good for a light and quick read but, unfortunately, not much else.
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