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Wasted Beauty: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Actor Bogosian (Mall) takes the "opposites attract" conceit to an extreme in a well-crafted novel that's also a vicarious walk on the wild side. Before he crashes two very different ends of the social spectrum together, though, Bogosian develops each one separately, cultivating suspense: how will these characters come together? In one corner is Reba, a 20-year-old upstate New York farm girl who, along with her nasty brother, Billy, sells apples to Manhattanites on weekends. In a breathless series of events, she becomes separated from Billy and is spotted by a fashion photographer who turns her into a supermodel. In the other corner is Rick, a middle-aged Jewish doctor living in the suburbs with his family. While he likes his life, he's also chafing under certain domestic constraints. It's up to Billy to make them collide by hurtling off the deep end after losing his sister; he ends up in the emergency room, and Rick sends him to the psych ward. The model and the physician eventually begin a torrid, May/December romance that drives the latter toward divorce and the former into addiction. It's a great guilty pleasure of a story line (brainy schlump meets gorgeous goddess), and Bogosian fills it with fresh, frank turns of phrase—the frazzled doctor's eyes are "like slit-open gray prunes"—even if the ending feels a little too sanitized for the gritty story that preceded it. Agent, William Morris. (May)
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From Booklist

It has been 20 years since authors Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis created a literary zeitgeist with their novels about the go-go 1980s, especially McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City (1984), which captured beautifully the excesses and despair of Manhattan's night life. How tempting for writers who missed the party to want to try their hand. Enter Bogosian. His novel features Reba Cook, a 19-year-old hick from upstate New York who is orphaned and left with only her immaculate beauty. While in New York City, she's discovered and immediately lands a modeling contract. For Reba it's all sex, drugs, and bankroll from here on out. Problem is, she finds hobnobbing with the rich and soulless a bummer. Luckily, she meets Rick, a middle-aged doctor with his own practice and a family. Rick's problem is that he's trapped in the "successful" life he painstakingly created. Together he and Reba form a meaningful connection. Although Bogosian is a skillful writer, his points feel cliched (living superficially invites suffering--no headlines there), and his characters sometimes seem like retreads from other novels. Ultimately, although he brings back gossip about the party, Bogosian reveals that it's still just the same old scene. Expect demand based on his name. Jerry Eberle
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New title edition (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743235886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743235884
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,347,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author


ERIC BOGOSIAN BIO

Eric Bogosian is best known as a playwright, novelist and actor. He wrote and starred in the play, "Talk Radio" (NYSF - 1987; on Broadway starring Liev Schreiber- 2007), for which he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and the Tony award. For his film adaptation of the play, Bogosian received the Berlin Film Festival "Silver Bear." His six solo performances Off-Broadway between 1980 and 2000, (including "Drinking in America", "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll" and "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee") received three Obie awards. In addition to "Talk Radio", Bogosian has written a number of full-length plays including "subUrbia" (LCT, Second Stage, also adapted to film), "Griller" (Goodman), "Red Angel" (Williamstown Theater Festival), "Humpty Dumpty" (The McCarter), 1+1 (New York Stage and Film). He is also the author of three novels, "Mall", "Wasted Beauty" and "Perforated Heart" and a novella, "Notes from Underground." He is a Guggenheim fellow.

As an actor, Bogosian has appeared in numerous films and television programs, starring in Robert Altman's "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial", Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio", as Travis Dane in "Under Siege II", as Eddie Nash in "Wonderland" and as Captain Danny Ross in sixty episodes of "Law & Order:CI." In 2010, he starred on Broadway in "Time Stands Still" with Laura Linney, Brian Darcy James and Alicia Silverstone/Christina Ricci. Most recently he appears as a recurring character, Nelson Dubeck, on "The Good Wife."

In April 2014, Theater Communications Group will publish the full collection of Bogosian's monologues, titled "100 (monologues)." Go to 100monologues.com to see members of the New York acting community performing the monologues.

Bogosian lives in New York with his wife, director Jo Bonney. He is currently completing a non-fiction book documenting "Operation Nemesis", a conspiracy that targeted and assassinated Turkish leaders responsible for the Armenian genocide. (To be published by Little, Brown January 2015)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kevin D on April 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If one were to equate Bogosian's first novel, Mall: A Novel, to his play subUrbia, then one could also draw a similar parallel between 'Wasted Beauty' and his recent play 'Red Angel.' The Jeff of both Mall and subUrbia were two closely related characters, much like the leading men in Wasted Beauty and Red Angel. In print, however, Bogosian is able to delve deeper into the characters' inner thoughts. When reading his work, one can just tell that Bogosian is an actor -- he often follows dialogue directly with subtext, which I liked. Rick, the main character in 'Beauty', actually has roots that go much further back in Bogosian's work than 'Angel'. He is reminiscent of the peeping-tom in Mall, who was a descendent of Bogosian's Recovering Male character from his solos. If you've been following his work, I would say you will definitely appreciate this book, and if you haven't, now's a good time to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hillary A. Thomas on May 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was the first novel I have read by Eric Bogosian (I'm currently reading Mall), and I am hooked. His beautiful writing as the three main characters (Billy, Rick and Reba) and the ability to switch between all three to first person will keep you reading. As the reader, you develop sincere feeling for these characters, even though on the outside they look like a raging alcoholic, a drug addicted model and a cheating husband. Bogosian dives deeper into each of their brains, making it a must read!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This isn't a bad novel. It isn't "bad" writing; it's "cheap" writing -- cheap thrills, cheap sex drugs & violence, cheap dysfunction, cheap degradation, cheap hatred, none of which are implausible or irrelevant in America Today. But the whole spread -- magazine ad spread, spread legs, spread face down in puke on the sidewalk, the spread between wealth and destitution, the spread between innocence and experience -- reads to me as mere sensationalist exploitation.

Is it Eric Bogosian's fault if people want to read such stuff? To wallow in filth and ugliness vicariously? Of course not! This marketability of misery, this rage for "rage," has been around for a long time. It was the theme if Bogosian's own stage drama and film Talk Radio, at the climax of which his avatar, radio host Barry Champlain, dies for our cultural sins.

So where am I going with this review?

This is a "grunge novel." Specifically, it's a grunge novel for intellectual readers, replete with allusions to Baudelaire, Hesse, and painter Arthur Dove. It's chock full of snappy sentences and terse, well-crafted descriptions. It's a pretty good grunge novel, but that wasn't what I was hoping for.
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Format: Hardcover
This book remains one of my favorites. For me it took subjects that I usually wouldn't want anything to do with and turned them into interesting, gripping tales. If you like this type of book I'm sure you will love it, and if you think a model heroin addict and sex-addicted married doctor isn't your cup of tea, I can personally attest that it might just win you over despite.
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By Sushi_Lover on March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was enthralled with this book, but it was very graphic and depressing. At times, it seemed to try too hard to not try too hard--if that makes sense. Still, I re-read it, and I suggested it to my book club, so there was something there.
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