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With "pointed daggers of prose" (The New Yorker), Laura Kipnis examines contemporary downfall sagas to lay bare the American psyche: what we desire, what we punish, and what we disavow. She delivers virtuoso analyses of four paradigmatic cases: a lovelorn astronaut, an unhinged judge, a venomous whistleblower, and an over-imaginative memoirist. The motifs are classic—revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness—though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception—the necessary ingredients—are our collective plight. In How to Become a Scandal, bad behavior is the entry point for a brilliant cultural romp as well as an anti-civics lesson. "Shove your rules," says scandal, and no doubt every upright citizen, deep within, cheers the transgression—as long as it's someone else's head on the block.
A brilliant curtain-raiser on exactly why it’s so delicious to watch self-destruction, How to Become a Scandal is a must-read for anyone unable to look away from another’s fall from grace. Laura Kipnis argues that it takes two to make a scandal and cuts through the tangled relationship between the scandalized victims and us as the voyeurs, noting that the audience is equally to blame for whipping up such frenzy. A thoughtful and juicy take on familiar targets (Linda Tripp and the NASA love triangle among them), Kipnis sees what we all do: some scandals are just thinly veiled self-sabotage. And the best stories aren’t self-contained; they’re far-reaching, full-blooded dramas, complete with a cast of characters who overtake the global stage. Of course, scandal’s an all-inclusive monster, but a bigger star and more disturbing details make for an even better flameout. Kipnis astutely points out that the ceremonial shunning of whistleblowers, plagiarists, and cheaters is cathartic and neatly packages something amorphous: why America jumps on the wagon all over again each time someone violates social mores with lust and betrayal and jealousy. Reading her clever book is like sitting in a front-row seat at Scandal Theory 101—and serves as a cautionary tale for those tiptoeing on the edges of indignity. Revisiting the denouements of James Frey, Sol Wachtler et al is a strangely elegant exercise in how to crash, burn, and ultimately survive. How to Become a Scandal is as transfixing and engrossing as the tremendously chaotic tales she recounts with exacting detail.
I recommend this work to anyone who is attempting to write a memoir or just enjoys reading them.
Furthermore, one does not have to be an ethicist to realize this book is so morally bankrupt . . . you just want to throw it in the trash, and go wash your hands.
The entire book is based on her own conjecture and speculations as to why these four very specific individuals were motivated to do what they did.
I'll make it simple: I couldn't put the book down. After I finished it, I handed it over to a friend to read, along with high praise. Read morePublished 18 months ago by exoDerek
funny as in hmmm; not as in haha
familiar as in she's at it again; not as in am I at it again
I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess I was let down. Scandals and such are generally attention getters because they titilate people. This barely kept me interested. Read morePublished on January 10, 2011 by C Wahlman
Who doesn't love a juicy scandal? Yet however loudly we decry the bad behavior, isn't it just a tad hypocritical that we also gain a bit of enjoyment from it? Read morePublished on October 30, 2010 by jjmachshev
As a media professor, who better than the author to comment on the perfect subject matter for the media, that is, scandals. Read morePublished on October 27, 2010 by J. Grattan
This collection of "Adventures in Bad Behavior" is written by a self-admitted "scandal fan...who loves these stories: the voyeuristic glimpses into the detritus of other people's... Read morePublished on September 10, 2010 by James R. Holland
The introduction of "How To Become A Scandal" reads like something out of "The New York Review Of Books". Read morePublished on September 2, 2010 by Sunday
So boring that I couldn't even finish the book. I love reading about celebrity scandals, but this book just didn't do it for me. There is nothing new in this book. Read morePublished on September 1, 2010 by Turtles all the Way Down™