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How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior Hardcover – August 31, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; Reprint edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805089799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805089790
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,251,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Product Description
We all relish a good scandal—the larger the figure (governor, judge) and more shocking the particulars (diapers, cigars)—the better. But why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them, hurling our condemnations while savoring every lurid detail?

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.

Amazon Exclusive: Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast, Reviews How to Become a Scandal

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.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Two very public downfalls and two very public uproars guide us through the contemporary infernal regions of scandal: the downfall of the lovelorn astronaut, Lisa Nowak, and an unreasonable judge, Sol Wachter, and the uproar set off by Linda Tripp and James Frey. Familiar as they may be, Kipnis (Against Love) freshly illuminates her subjects' plights, while scrutinizing the public delight in their misfortune, wearing her learning so lightly that the reader is easily seduced by her quick wit and her camouflaged erudition. Kipnis ties psychoanalysis and reality TV, detectives and literary critics, talk show hosts and sociologists, along with the scandalizers and the scandalized into a persuasive bundle: Scandals aren't just fiascoes other people get themselves embroiled in while the rest of us go innocently about our business, she argues. e all have crucial roles to play. A deliciously flippant tone serves the reader the juicy details we savor so about scandal, while tossing in some timeless questions and speculations about the deeper meaning of it all ( free will, moral luck, the stranglehold of desire, the difference between right and wrong ) as though they were mere garniture. This is a dead serious book that's an utter lark to read.
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