Customer Reviews: Sellevision: A Novel
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VINE VOICEon April 10, 2008
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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HALL OF FAMEon July 13, 2003
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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on July 15, 2003
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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on September 5, 2000
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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on March 20, 2002
I was slightly skeptical about this one because I'm not a home shopping fan. But it took about two sentences for me to be completely won over. Sellevision is a sharp, hilarious media satire that never wavers. The plot is lightning fast, the characters are dead on, and the writing is exactly as mean and funny as it needs to be without ever going too far. This is brilliant. So where's the movie?
I see from the Amazon author page that Burroughs has a new book called Running With Scissors coming out this summer. I've already pre-ordered mine.
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on October 4, 2002
Oh, what wryly wicked fun! What Jane Smiley's *Moo* did to State Agricultural Colleges, Augusten Burroughs does to home shopping television, the cast and crew and their friends and relatives of the fictional (?) Sellevision Home Shopping Channel. With Special Guest Appearances by Debbie Boone, Barbra Streisand, Kathy Bates, Joyce DeWitt and others. And Stuff You Never Knew You Couldn't Live Without, like RemoteControLotion: a universal remote control unit that not only operates most televisions, VCRs, and stereo systems, but also dispenses moisturizing hand lotion through tiny pores on each of the buttons!
Can you relate? There's a Sellevision Shop-aholic host whose shock at her AmEx bill drives her to to look for a book to help curb her addiction. She finds eight and clicks them all, "along with a book about investing in Chinese artifacts. She logged off feeling tremendous relief."
If laughter is the best medicine, this book *is* relief.
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on August 17, 2000
Augusten Burroughs "Sellevision" is a Dazzling Diamonelle of a read! I really loved this book because, as my friend who turned me on to it commented, "It's like the movie Soap Dish set in the world of television retail." The book goes behind the scenes showing us glimpses of the glamourous lives of TV retail hosts and hostesses. The biting humor of the book made me want to go out and buy some of the outrageous products touted on Sellevision such as Moisture Whik Control Panties, the Running Wolf simulated turqoise cabochon belt buckle, or Joyce's Choice Mid-Life Oasis Foaming Bath Puree supposedly created by star of the small screen, Joyce DeWitt. This is a campy read that will have you laughing out loud. If you enjoy dark humor but are looking for a fast and light read, this is your book!
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on August 22, 2000
I picked up this book because I liked the cover - read the first page in the store, and rushed home to buy it on Amazon. On the basis of that first page, I had prepared myself for the kind of involvement and hilarity that I have come to expect from David Sedaris, and I was not disappointed. Burroughs is a master storyteller - he gets the details right, creates characters that leap from the page, and makes you howl with laughter. This is a great romp through the world of home shopping networks, if we could but peek behind the scenes and infuse it with the wicked imagination it surely begs for. I hated tosee Sellevision end, because ther is nothing more therapeutic than a great laugh -- I eagarly await Mr. Burrough's next novel. In fact I am going to sit right here and wait. Hurry......
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on October 28, 2002
Never having heard of Augusten Burroughs until my sister sent me the Washington Post review of "Running With Scissors", I didn't know what I was missing. Now I do and I want more. I read "Running With Scissors" then went back and read this book. I seldom read novels but real or imagined, Burroughs' characters are as remarkable as the situations in which they find themselves He seems to really love his wild assortment of human beings and to appreciate their plight. No preaching, no redeeming social value, not really even a story, just a bunch of everyday oddballs you miss as soon as you finish his books. I really like Augusten Burroughs and am happy to say I've had a few friends who closely resemble him.
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on April 12, 2002
I work for a home shopping channel, ShopNBC, and I have to say that this book is a dead-on send up of this industry. Everything from the schmaltzy hosts to the ridiculous merchandise is completely true-to-life. I have never laughed so hard! I've read this book 4 times already, and it never fails to delight me.
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