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Sellevision: A Novel Paperback – June 1, 2003


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Burning Down George Orwell's House
Burning Down George Orwell's House
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Robert Stone describes Burning Down George Orwell's House as a "… most enjoyable, a witty, original turn … one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original." Learn more about the author, Andrew Ervin

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Light and funny, with a bitter aftertaste, the action of Sellevision takes place behind the scenes (and on the set) of a successful television shopping network, where a feminine role model, Peggy Jean Smythe, the married, Christian mother of three, begins receiving suspicious e-mail from a viewer who insists that Peggy's hairy earlobe is obscuring her presentation of jewelry during the broadcast. When Peggy fails to respond to the e-mail, but silently waxes her lobe, the cruel notes escalate, until Peggy believes herself to be suffering from a hormonal crisis that has given her a mustache, a gruff voice, and the manner of a lumberjack. Meanwhile, one of her cohosts, Max Andrews, has been fired for accidentally exposing himself during a children's special, and learns just how undesirable a commodity a penis-baring ex-Sellevision host can be on the job market. The book is an unusually smooth read for a first novel, with six or seven truly inspired lines. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A relentless spoof of cable's home-shopping mania shamelessly borrows from gossip tabloids, TV talk shows and the endlessly loopy world of advertising. This first novel dives behind the scenes of Sellevision, "America's premier retail broadcasting network," as the channel confronts its first juicy scandal. Much-loved and handsome host Max Andrews has accidentally exposed his private parts during a "Toys for Tots" segment, and the flood of invective from outraged viewers forces the network to fire him. Though Max struggles to find another job, he bounces back nicely by segueing into an adult-film career. Meanwhile, another beloved host, prim and perky Peggy Jean Smythe, receives insulting e-mail from a mysterious fan named Zoe, whose snide commentary about Peggy's hairy earlobes and clumpy mascara sends Peggy over the edge into Valium addiction and heavy drinking. Peggy Jean's picture-perfect family is on the rocks, too: her husband, John, is happily seducing the nubile and willing 16-year-old next door. While Peggy Jean seeks solace through the guidance of Debby Boone and rehab, someone else must step in to peddle the Princess Diana memorabilia and the Dazzling Diamonelle merchandise. Either of two lead candidates for the job may also be the creepy e-mail stalker: Trish Mission, the innocent, young newcomer, or Leigh Bushmore, executive producer Howard Toast's mistress. This kaleidoscope of gleefully salacious intrigue aims to titillate and amuse in a purposefully over-the-top way. Advertising copywriter Burroughs throws in some witty zingers but, overall, the energy of this satire of commercial madness almost peters out before the last FuturePop Popcorn Popper or Moisture-Whik Control Panties are sold. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Burning Down George Orwell's House
Burning Down George Orwell's House
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Robert Stone describes Burning Down George Orwell's House as a "… most enjoyable, a witty, original turn … one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original." Learn more about the author, Andrew Ervin

Product Details

  • Paperback: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312422288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312422288
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works "Running with Scissors," "Dry," "Magical Thinking," "Possible Side Effects" and "A Wolf at the Table," all of which were New York Times bestsellers. "Running with Scissors" remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening. His only novel, "Sellevision," is currently in development as a series for NBC. "Dry," Augusten's memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten's latest book is called "You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas."

Twice named to Entertainment Weekly's list of the funniest people in America, Augusten has also been the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story and a Jeopardy! answer. His books have made guest appearances in two James Patterson novels, one Linkin Park music video, numerous television shows and a porn movie.

Augusten has been a photographer since childhood and many of his images can be seen on his website, www.augusten.com. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Melissa N. VINE VOICE on April 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm a big Augusten Burroughs fan, so it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this book. "Sellevision" is the first book that Burroughs ever wrote, and it's his only novel. The story revolves around the backstage antics at Sellevision, America's top retail shopping network. "Sellevision" is a satire, and it reminded me a lot of the Sally Field movie "Soapdish," in a good way. There are many colorful characters working at the station, and each one is involved in their own over-the-top crisis. The book opens with Sellevision's young homosexual host, Max, getting fired from the network because he accidentally displayed his penis on live television. Then there's Peggy Jane, one of the top female hosts at the station who's more than a little neurotic in her personal life. When Peggy Jane is harassed by a nasty e-mail stalker, she begins abusing drugs and alcohol until she plummets over the edge. Bebe, another top host at the network, always manages to sell out of her products on the air, but has a bit of a spending problem on the side. She's also been single for her entire life and finally meets the man of her dreams, but is he too good to be true?

Several other Sellevision hosts pepper this colorful novel, which is full of Burroughs' sarcasm and quick wit. This book is hilarious and completely exaggerated on so many levels, which is what makes it so much fun. I didn't feel a personal connection with this book the way I did with all of Burroughs' memoirs, but considering the frightening characters depicted in the story, that's probably a very good thing.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on July 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
No book has made me laugh so much since Terry Southern's Candy. Sellevision, like Candy, is a clever and disarming satire that borders toward a parody. This novel has the sort of lowbrow humor that will make you roar with laughter and loathe the characters and situations at the same time.
Sellevision is a more upscale version of QVC. The hosts are third-tier celebrities who would backstab their way to the top. During the course of the year, the channel and its hosts undergo various changes. Max, the sweet and handsome gay host of "Toys for Tots," a children's segment, loses his job when he accidentally exposes himself during the aforementioned program. He hadn't anticipated the struggle to regain his career and reputation that he ends up enduring. On the other hand, Peggy Jean Smythe, one of the channel's most popular hosts, has the perfect life. That is until she receives sinister E-mails from an obsessed fan. The other hosts have skeletons in their dressing rooms as well. Will Leigh be able to end the courtship with her married boss? Will Bebe's shopaholism stand in the way of true love? Will Trish Mission finally become Sellevision's diva? Will Peggy Jean's husband be able to resist his desire for the beautiful - not to mention jailbait - babysitter? There are some hilarious twists throughout the novel.
As mentioned earlier, some of the goofball situations that occur in Sellevision are more of a parody about the ubiquitous home shopping networks that have become so popular over the years. This is one of the cleverest satirical novels out there. If you're in the bargain for a laugh-a-minute farce, I suggest that you give this dark comedy a whirl.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Shashank Tripathi on July 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
If there ever was a gleefully mean-spirited book, this is it. It explores commercial avarice and obsession with sham celebrity in the world of a fictional home shopping network.
Welcome to the troubled world of "Sellevision", America's premier retail broadcasting network. When Max Andrews, the much-loved and handsome (lonely and gay) host of Slumber Sunday Sundown accidentally exposes himself in front of sixty million kids and their parents during a "Toys for Tots" segment, Sellevision faces its first big scandal. As Max fails to find a job in television, another host, the popular and perky Peggy Jean Smythe, is receiving sinister emails about her appearance from a stalker. Popping pills and drinking heavily, she fails to notice that her husband is spending a lot of time with the very young babysitter who lives next door. Then there's Leigh, whose affair with Sellevision boss Howard Toast is going nowhere, until she exposes him on air; and Bebe, Sellevision's star host, who finds Mr. Right through the Internet ? if she can just stop her shopping addiction from taking over.
It is not merely the dysfunctional family of anchors that is subject to the author's satire, but perhaps the whole primping 15-minute culture of television as we know it in our world.
Truly hilarious, and a fast paced read. If this book's laconic humor works for you, try "Running with Scissors" as well, which is clearly an ever more mature and twice as hilarious Burroughs in top form.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Surowiecki on September 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This marvelously wicked and well written novel was a definite treat to read.
Augusten Burroughs will hook you with the very first sentence! What follows is a riotous behind-the-scenes romp through the world of the Sellevision Retail Broadcasting Network.
Witness egos clashing on a regular basis! Laugh as the on air talent creatively try to back-stab one another! This entertaining cast of characters are constantly jockeying for a better and more lucrative spot in the limelight, all the while trying to sell you and your family a Princess Diana key fob. It's a devilish mix of "Soapdish" and "American Beauty"!
This novel is a delight! Each and every character is well crafted. I still can't find one I like over another. Readers get a look at each of their personal lives, as well as their on-air ones. All of which are screwed up to various degrees! Hilariously so!
Of all the cast, Bebe Friedman is the proverbial rat in charge of the cheese. Not only is she one of Sellevision's most popular hosts; but, she also has an obsessive compulsive thing for shopping. Her $19,287.64 American Express bill is a testament to that fact. Plus, as she surmises, she knows that there will be someone somewhere in her life that will love a roulette wheel for a Christmas gift.
"Sellevision" is fast, sharp and funny. For his first novel, Augusten Burroughs does a fantastic job of entertaining the reader! I look forward to his next work!
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