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Beauty Talk & Monsters (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents) Paperback – May 25, 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tupitsyn, a film critic and former assistant literary editor of Bomb, tosses tosses her never-quite-named (but seemingly consistent) female narrator between ages, cities and especially men in this lovely, unconventional debut, but gives her an unalloyed solace in the form of cinema. As the book moves from vignette-like monologuge to monologue, the men vary in their words and looks-one is "many versions of earth tones," another is "sneaky and bony...the color of a sweet potato"-but almost always do the same thing: leave. The narrator's salvation and distraction are consistently found in film: she sees one lover through the prism of Mean Streets; wonders if her neediness equates her to the shark in Jaws; and riffs on the macho pull of Jack Nicholson or potential insecurities of Tom Cruise. She's also fascinated with the idea of beauty and societal perceptions of women, famous and not, and shares her thoughts on cultural touchstones like Nicole Kidman's aesthetic trajectory (once "a feral garden, now a sewing kit"). Other pieces here deftly blend real and imagined Hollywood, film theory and thematic narrative, as in "Kleptomania," where the narrator looks on as Judy Garland, Diane Keaton and Tippi Hedren's Hitchcock character, "Marnie," compare notes on their lives in a bar. The more experimental pieces will be buttery popcorn for silver-screen junkies, but the more traditional, detail-rich stories (like "The Ghost of Berlin") make a narrator who's waiting for "someone or something to stick" memorable.
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"Masha Tupitsyn's debut collection is a breathtaking mixture of tall tale and autobiography, film theory and lover's lament, traveler's diary and gender treatise. A novel-in-parts disguised as a bootleg memoir crossed with a Hollywood tell-all, Beauty Talk & Monsters dares us to ask if there is a point to reliability when a shifty narrator can provide so much obsessive insight... Beauty Talk & Monsters has a shimmering intimacy." -- Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Bookslut

"Beauty Talk is in part a meditation on the symbiotic pleasures and impositions of intellectual exile--at once an indictment and a celebration--a poetic expression of voluntary solitude which questions what it means to hole up inside yourself, to resist the roles you've been assigned and the thoughts you're conditioned to accept as your own, and to willfully separate from the disappointment of other people without losing your engagement in and appraisal of the world around you... The one thin line Tupitsyn maintains is that between on-screen and off-screen. Pop culture is subject, theme, character, and plot in her work, which takes American media as a narrative foundation." -- Brian Pera, Fanzine "In her debut collection, Masha Tupitsyn is at her best when recalling emotional disaster, and when she aligns herself to this end, with strategies of Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus." -- Jeanine Herman, BOMB

 "The experience of reading Beauty Talk & Monsters is humid, intimate, and juicy; like spying through a window at a neighbor's television set, it provides both the voyeuristic pleasure of watching a stranger's activity and the familiar flicker of a well-known film, now playing in a stranger's psyche." -- Michelle Tea, San Francisco Bay Chronicle

 "This stunning book is a reckoning with what it is to have been raised with the movies, to not be able to tell the difference anymore between what we've fantasized or dreamt of, what we've been frightened of, what may have been our own or no one's life." --Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth and The Haunted House

"Here is a festival of meaning! Masha Tupitsyn does not meditate on the movies--she reactivates them in an uproar of image, desire, and identification. Her stories are acts of discovery, written under the sign of Kathy Acker, ambitious for literature itself, the prose pitched high." --Robert Gluck, author of Jack the Modernist and Denny Smith

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Product Details

  • Series: Semiotext(e) / Native Agents
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Semiotext(e) (May 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158435044X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584350446
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,845,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on August 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Marilyn Minter's garish and voluble cover photo, and the redoubtable design work of Hedi El Kholti, made me predisposed to like this book as soon as I flipped its pages. But that's just the beginning of the story.

I have never met Masha Tupitsyn, the young author of BEAUTY TALK AND MONSTERS, but somehow I feel like we're on the same wavelength, and her writing exudes a magnetic force that pulls in a reader, renders him helpless and sprawling on his back like one of the butterflies of her beloved Nabokov. From Tupitsyn we learn how the movies of the seventies, from MEAN STREETS and THE EXORCIST through JAWS and SUSPIRIA, shaped her consciousness, made her eternally receptive to a host of foreign influences, while eighties films, like TOP GUN, PRETTY IN PINK and DIRTY DANCING, gave her agency and allowed her to become her own sexual object. In places this book, a collection of essays, memoirs and stories, will remind you of an animated version of Nan Goldin's BALLAD OS SEXUAL DEPENDENCY, only it's not as druggy perhaps, for who needs heavy drugs when your mind jumps and quivers as Hitchcock's camera speeds down the sordid London alleys of 1972's FRENZY and melts with a reluctant empathy as poor Brenda Blaney, FRENZY's middle-aged matchmaker, meets her fate in a man she hardly knows? Though her stories are short on dialogue, and relying on a lot of "telling," her men and women are vivid creations, with minds of their own; you walk away from BEAUTY TALK feeling that Masha Tupitsyn has seen far too much of life and remembered everything worth relating in fiction.

She flits from city to city in search of--well, she admits she doesn't exactly know why.
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By lemon on September 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has teeth (shark teeth and word teeth). It works at you and doesn't let go. It's refreshing and provocative and it might make you a little uncomfortable, but that's ultimately what is so enjoyable about this book--the fact that it makes you move in your seat as you read. Beauty Talk and Monsters delivers on so many levels; it's about heartache and loss, discovery, adventure, and feminism (at a time when feminism could use a hand). The book is relentless in its confrontation of what we have come to accept as standards of beauty, the standards that Hollywood has branded and projected onto the screen and into our lives. It's about the struggle (a woman's struggle mostly) to both love movies and hate the Hollywood dictatorship; it's about beauty and death and immortality. The writing is beautiful, dynamic and intimate--like being in on a secret. It will remind you of a time when movies and books weren't defined by box office sales and bestseller lists, and when questioning everything was what filmmakers and writers did best.
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