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When the Kissing Had to Stop: Cult Studs, Khmer Newts, Langley Spooks, Techno-Greeks, Video Drones, Author Gods, Serial Killers, Vampire Media, Allen Sperm-Suckers, Satanic therapi Hardcover – June 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 362 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; First Edition edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845336
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,646,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When John Leonard says he's going to "use a nifty novel, Philip Kerr's A Philosophical Investigation, as an excuse to talk about everything else under the fascistic sun," he means it, as a review of a futuristic thriller turns into a grand tour of modern culture, with stops to look at (among other things) the history of serial killers, Weimar Germany, E.O. Wilson's theories of sociobiology, the life of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the roots of psychoanalysis, a 4th-century woman mathematician, and Copenhagen's paltry commemoration of Soren Kierkegaard. In these essays, gathered from various publications (mostly The Nation), Leonard takes on everything from Toni Morrison to the X-Files movie in freewheeling, energetic style. Reading cultural criticism hasn't been this much fun since Lester Bangs was on the scene. When the Kissing Had to Stop is probably best suited for periodic dipping rather than a straight-through reading, because it is possible to overdose on the massive amounts of cultural literacy crammed into Leonard's prose. But who could resist the rough charms of a man who notes, in the middle of reviewing Bret Easton Ellis, "I read this stuff so you don't have to"? --Ron Hogan

From Publishers Weekly

A weekly commentator on CBS Sunday Morning and a former editor of the New York Times Book Review, Leonard (Smoke and Mirrors) has distinguished himself as a cultural critic over the past two decades with his unabashedly liberal, even leftist, views. His eighth book is a collection of 30 essays, many of them expanded since their original publications in such journals as the Nation and the New York Review of Books. Part of Leonard's ongoing critique of contemporary U.S. electronic and print media, the pieces range from "Lolita Lights Our Fire," a review of Adrian Lyne's film of Nabokov's most notorious novel, to an evaluation of government funding and the arts in "Whose Television, for Which Public?" Leonard is terrific at describing and explaining everything from The X-Files to the current politics of smoking. As a materialist, he locates the roots of current culture in political and economic realities, not any vague millennialism. While his ruminations cut a wide swath, he never strays from his basic theme that post-Cold War America has been overwhelmed and undercut by deeply ingrained paranoia, as well as by a sense of incipient doom. He offers no concrete or radical solutions but hints that a better world beckons in the writings of such artists as Grace Paley, Doris Lessing and Toni Morrison. Often ecstatically urgent, these pieces are highly informed and cogently argued.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be one of the more unusual things I've ever read. It had multiple personalities; Entertaining, Enlightening, Humbling, Compelling, Strange, Compelling, and I'm sure I'm missing a few. The vocabulary is unbelievable. Don't touch this book without a dictionary in-hand. However, the writing is captivating. It alone is worth the price of reading about writers and works you've never heard of, with attendant feelings of functional illiteracy. I put this book down often. But, I always picked it back up. It was a unique read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Lynch on June 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John Leonard has been making me get up early on Sunday mornings so that I may watch his reviews of T.V. and media on CBS's "Sunday Morning". From those early morning encounters, I was prepared for the pacing and precision of his sentences. But now, after sampling this fine collection of essays, what a pleasure it is to savor his words on the page, like hard candy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Humphries on May 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'll respectfuly disagree with Kirkus Reviews. There is a theme on which Leonard's book hangs together. Starting with his discussion of Utopias, through the essay on Glyn Hughes <cite>The Rape of the Rose</cite> he's angry that we've replaced criticism that delt with the real world with a ghost world of Postmodernist buzzwords, and that by chasing those ghosts, the academic left have abandoned their mission of commenting on the real world.
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John Leonard is a left-winger. Fine, so am I. The trouble is, he thinks that this is a daring and remarkable thing to be. Every few pages he lets us in on his leftism and (more subtly, though subtlety has never been his thing) how incredibly proud of himself he is for being leftist. You get the sense that he wishes there were some real and imminent peril in praising Toni Morrison, but there isn't--and he KNOWS it--and therefore his tough-boy declarations are not only repetitive but repulsive. Does he care about the left's constituency, or does he just want to be seen caring in order to get chummy reviews from the Village Voice? Also, has anyone noticed that his prose is more often than not borderline incoherent?
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10 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I agree 100% with the reader who writes that Leonard's prose is borderline incoherent. Borderline is too nice! It's vulgar mania dressed up to look like a real literary style. What rubbish! I'm less offended by Leonard's tiresome, slack, unexercised, undemanding leftism (though anyone who can call Giuliani's reign in New York "Mussolini meantime", as Leonard does in his Grace Paly piece, is not only being morally offesnive, but shows that he simply doesan't respect the weight and actual meaning of words: in itself, a disqualification for a man who poses as a critic.) No, it's not the politics so much that offends me as the vulgar literary sensibility, whipping itself up into hysterias, so that readers are fooled into thinking that here is a journalistic Thomas Pynchon. The prose is truly crass, tin-eared, clumsy, and exhibitionist. What this man thinks of a "poetry" is just the kind of foolish, bumbling-but-apparently-flashy language that rock stars put on the backs of records, and that rock journalists use in publications like NME. God help us that this man has set himself up as a critic. (But then, this is someone who thinks that Barbara Kingsolver is "our very own Gordimer or Lessing": q.e.d., not a literary mind.)
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