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Exposure: A Novel Hardcover – July 18, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316093971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316093972
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,915,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A near future glutted with obnoxious animated billboards and digitized celebrities hawking commercial goods serves as the backdrop for this wan satire on Hollywood and media overexposure. Cynical screenwriter Marshall Reed struggles to help his best friend, Colt Reston, a film legend dying of a strange wasting disease that seems to intensify in direct proportion to the amount his image is broadcast. Meanwhile, a cult of technophobes are incited to acts of billboard destruction by The Black Book, an antimedia manifesto penned by an anonymous industry insider. Wenzel (Gotham Tragic) builds momentum up to the unmasking of "Mr. Black" and the revelation of how Colt's illness intertwines with the scheme of an entertainment agent to scrap live actors in favor of digitally manipulated dead screen icons. But every time Wenzel introduces a new character, the lengthy backstory slows things to a crawl. The Hollywood zaniness provokes a few laughs, but not enough to make this more than a routine "what if."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In his third novel, Wenzel is still preoccupied with fame, but this satirical, speculative look at life in 2017 shows he's broadening his range. Colt Reston is the biggest movie star in the world, and Hollywood, thanks to the 2010 Day of Terror, has strengthened its hold as the opiate of the masses. Everyone is drowning in a sea of images: the MIBs (moving image billboards) that line highways and bathroom stalls alike show ReStars (digitized Bogarts and Bacalls) hawking everything under the skin-burning sun. The elite take "media fasts," while more hands-on types attack the MIBs themselves. Against a backdrop of warring talent agencies, which seem more like governments, Marshall Reed, a drug-addled script doctor and Reston's best friend, tries to find out who's sick enough of Reston's face to disfigure it. This is clever and engaging, though its satirical edge is blunted by the lack of unexpected insight. Yes, marketing has run amok; yes, we have media fatigue; yes, fear breeds nostalgia. But with an ending as fanciful as this one, we're not as frightened as we ought to be. Graff, Keir
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

My main problem is the tone of the book.
Jose Jones
Most of the time this works well, but unfortunately Kurt Wenzel did not manage to capture my attention quite as much as I would have liked.
Armchair Interviews
There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, and it was definitely a good book with great writing.
Heather A. Teysko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jazee Sklar on July 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Exposure: A Novel

A best-selling tome written by an anonymous media-loathing mystery author, moving image advertisements on bathroom stall walls, fast-food-addicted lions, HOT movie stars plastered on every crevice of the American landscape, movie studio execs that would go to ANY length to out-do each other, a police-state "governmentality" after a major US terrorist attack ... it's today, only amplified by a thousand.

The year is 2017 and Los Angeles is drowning in MIBs (Moving Image Billboards) and the hottest actor in the world, Colt Reston (in my opinion, probably fashioned after Tom Cruise), is dying of a strange disease, seemingly a victim of terminal over-exposure. Could it be that media over-exposure has morphed into some kind of real disease? Are we so obsessed with celebrity that we need them selling us the latest Lexus SUV on our salt and pepper shakers at fine-dining restaurants?

That's the scary question that Wenzel tackles in his latest novel, Exposure.

Of course, it is impossible to not see the future slowly turning into this nightmarish scene where we will be taking "media fasts" to cleanse our minds (and our souls, I should think). I mean, if I hear about Lindsay Lohan going to rehab ONE MORE TIME I think I will... I digress.

Wenzel captures the cusp on which we are dangerously poised as Americans. The suspenseful plot finds us spying the inner-workings of the movie business - I'm a movie buff, so that got me from page one. The characters, particularly Marshall Reed, the once-great screenwriter, and Colt Reston's best friend btw, are trying to be human beings in a vapid industry surrounded by their own images.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bob k. on August 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The book is a bit like what might happen if Raymond Chandler wrote a science fiction story, with some healthy Kurt Vonnegut style ranting thrown in. It takes you through furturistic hollywood with several mysteries that keep the story line moving along quickly but still allows for some very clever and interesting character development. I found it a quick fun book. However,it was thought provoking too, making one think about the info overload that the current world pounds one with as well as about hollywood's ability to rewrite history and lives.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wenzel leaves the New York setting of his first two novels for a depressingly empty Hollywood in his latest, "Exposure."

One thing is obvious -- Wenzel can write. His prose is clean and he really understands how to thoughtfully craft a character and make a story flow.

I really enjoyed his first two novels, but I don't think he has enough to work with here. "Exposure" tells the story of a future world where we are overrun with ads: giant billboards on the streets, TV screens in bathroom stalls, even humans with embedded ads in their bodies. The cult of celebrity is out of control and more invasive than ever.

That's not the worst idea for a novel, but this book really focuses on the "mystery" of who the author (who calls himself Mr. Black) of an anonymous anti-media book is and then, later, who's trying to kill the biggest star in the world, Colt Reston. The main character is a drug-addicted burnout of a screenwriter named Marshall Reed, whose career seems to be modeled after Robert Towne's (without the drugs, of course).

My main problem is the tone of the book. Wenzel's first two novels were very laid-back and had a finger-snapping way-of-life pace, but "Exposure" is incredibly melodramatic. You can practically hear the lousy movie score soaring in the background and the dramatic sting as some new revelation is revealed.

When the book shoots off the rails and goes "Purple Rose of Cairo" it feels really silly -- though on the other hand, considering how stale the book has gotten by that time, you almost wish Wenzel explored it more.

I enjoyed Reed's character and his bitter take on Hollywood, but otherwise I really got bored of this book and looked forward to it ending.
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Format: Hardcover
Taken from a sociological standpoint, we live in a world soaked in consumerism, media drivel and a lot of screens.

And nowhere is this more evident than in "Exposure" -- having skewered the world of books, Kurt Wenzel turns a satirical eye on the entertainment biz. The eerie, onion-layered plot is clever, suspenseful and occasionally horrific, but also riddled with plot holes. And in the end, we're left wondering exactly what Wenzel is trying to satirize.

In the year 2019, giant digital billboards are sprawled across America, everywhere and anywhere. And the great stars of golden Hollywood have been digitally revived, animated in commercials, and will soon be in new movies. The lone condemnation of this digitally-generated way of life, and the media saturation numbing the public: the Black Book.

With that in mind, we turn to our cynical anti-hero. Marshall Reed wrote a brilliant screenplay years back, and is friends with the last "real" movie star Colt Reston. But while a daring young reporter tries to find the author of the Black Book, Colt calls Reed over in an understandable panic -- his body and face are being ravaged by sores and rapid aging.

Turns out Colt isn't the only one infected with this disease, which somehow only strikes the megafamous. And as Reed starts digging around, he learns of a anti-media rebel group, a new digital movie (starring Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift) gone bizarrely wrong, and secret plans for the media. All these things are wrapped up in Mr. Black... but who is Mr. Black really, and what does he want?

"Exposure" may take place in the future, but it's not really sci-fi -- since it has no cool gadgetry, aliens or scientific content, it's more like.... media-oriented fantasy/satire.
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