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Dead Stars Hardcover – August 2, 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A Top-Ten favorite book of 2012 from Sam Sacks of The Wall Street Journal

 

“Written in hyper-hilarious, brilliant prose, [DEAD STARS] renders an obsessive pop-culture nightmare of surprising realism and light, illuminating the meanest corners of its characters’—and our culture’s—desperation.”

—Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED review

 

Dead Stars is a tragicomic Hollywood epic: obscene, scandalous, heartbreaking. Best American novel I’ve read in a year…”

—@BretEastonEllis

 

“[T]here are few writers capable of escorting us more convincingly into a character’s tender, gnarled mind. Dead Stars, easily Wagner’s best and most ambitious novel yet, is a huge, riveting book...every page contains something statically electric enough to scorch the hair from your arms. Dead Stars is the London Fields of Los Angeles, the Ulysses of TMZ culture—an immensely literate, fearsomely interior novel about people who are neither.”

—Tom Bissell, GQ

“[DEAD STARS is] not just the best novel about Americans and fame of the past dozen years but the best since Nathanael West's "The Day of the Locust” … We all know the problems that Mr. Wagner is criticizing—we know about the idolization of people who became famous by way of sex tapes; we know about the mind-boggling traffic rates of online pornography; we know about plummeting educational standards and shortening attention spans. Sociologists give us statistics, and pundits write jeremiads. It takes an artist to make us feel the full horror and humanity of the situation.”

Wall Street Journal

 

“Dead Stars is a manic, hypersexualized take-down of Hollywood wannabes and strivers, a relentless, wickedly funny, pornographic flash on the eddies of fame in the present moment….the book is a total leap, a stylistic satiric attack, a XXX accomplishment. Wagner is often called a Hollywood writer; I'm not sure that's fair. Fame, craven desire, sexuality, art, pornography, literature, envy, disappointment, greed—are these things limited to Hollywood?”

—Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

 

“Wagner’s prose reads like the lovechild of Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster wallace…The most enjoyable riffs in Dead Stars display Wagner’s up-to-the-nanosecond insider’s knowledge of the L.A. scene....He also writes some clean, mean, glittery dialogue.”

—Lisa Zeidner, The Washington Post

About the Author

Bruce Wagner is the author of Memorial, The Chrysanthemum Palace (a PEN/Faulkner fiction award finalist), Still Holding, I'll Let You Go, I'm Losing You, and Force Majeure. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; First Edition edition (August 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399159355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399159350
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm surprised to say that this book shocked even my jaded palate. It is pornographic and repellant. It's also gorgeously put together with the right amount of redemption after pathos- like salt, sparing.
Please note that Amazon suggests this book for 18 years and older. It is extremely graphic.
Once you get into the book's rhythm, it becomes addictive and engaging, propulsive, even.
Anyone else would've been satisfied to have written the longest, filthiest shaggy dog story imaginable. Bruce Wagner, of course, goes further and makes his grotesques believable characters who, even laying in the gutter (as the celebrity photographer does) feel that they are living the dream, building a bridge to the stars.
It might not be for you but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
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By D. Noto on September 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really loved this book, with the understanding that this will so clearly not be everyone's cup of tea. It's audacious, *rude*, over the top and crazy. It is so au courant that it felt like the book was writing itself in real time. (This sense is best experienced in the Kindle version.) I imagined a satellite literally beaming down the text as I flipped the page. Dead Stars is a universe of internet and media noise -- every bit of nonsensical detritus you have ever picked up absorbing what passes for popular culture. As an LA native, I have a particular fetish for Hollywood dystopia, the sense of coming from an industry town where everyone and everything is somehow related to a star. My dad did weekend jobs for lunatic stars, my mom did some studio work, my grandmother did domestic work for an actor in Viva Las Vegas. I saw Rose Marie and Vincent Price in an unemployment line. Everything mythic and large is irreducibly small and pathetic. What seemed private to us locals is now grossly public. The bloom is off the rose, and the rose was wilted to begin with. Dead Stars is that world, in all its seamy, sordid splendor. Best of all is the writing, the creation of words and smashups to capture the mess. Hat's off to Bruce Wagner for this bravura performance! He's a star, heaven help him.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Celebrity worship has spread like a cultural cancer. In Dead Stars it metastasizes into the culture of cancer--the celeberity fueled fund-raising business, that is. Wagner's supersharp ear and perfect pitch dialogue guides the reader on a Dantean journey thru concentric rings of Hollywood hell, from the A list of money and power to the Z list of nothing and nowhere. Surprise surprise! Not much separates the gaseous rings but the big break that may never come. Junkie papparazzi stalking pantie shots, art moms trading on their daughter's pudenda, horny adolescents treading water on of heavy drugs while surfing a toxic sea of every sort of porn imaginable--from a writer with less verve the whole disaster of the moment would be intolerable. Wagner pulls it off with pacing and pyrotechnics to create an updated Day of the Locusts even the locusts would flee!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best - and funniest - critique of celebrity culture and our collective fixation on youth/money/porn/fame I've ever read, without any heavy-handed or moralistic overtones. This is truly an important and EXTRAORDINARILY fun and entertaining book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have the remains of our once cherished Hollywood stars oozed to the surface in Bruce Wagner's new book "Dead Stars"? I always look forward to a new Wagner book. Living in Los Angeles I always find his stories compelling and a good read in just a few sittings. I have to commend his style of text speak and clearly defined characters. But I can only take a little at a time and feel like taking a shower after every reading. These people are all revolting or pathetic or drug addled or totally not in touch with reality. Which pretty much defines Hollywood today, doesn't it? If you can appreciate this style of writing go for it. But don't expect to like any of these characters.

Please note I am 60% through this book so maybe there will be some redemptive endings for the slimy characters. Expect to feel filthy for time you spend with this book
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Format: Hardcover
This book is pretty hard core and it's no wonder some reviewers are repulsed. But I find Wagner's writing dizzying and uncompromising. This novel is pure wild, original energy. I'll take that over milquetoast any day. Recommend.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting and fun for a while and then increasingly overwhelming with paragraphs with no punctuation, emoticons, breathless references to celebs, porn stars, twitter, and endless vocab from the Urban Dictionary. There may be a plot and characters in there somewhere but I ceased to care about 100 pages in. I credit the author for doing something unique and showing me that <3 can be either a heart or a ball sack and that sometimes there is no difference between the two.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this book out for our book club book and now I kind of feel bad for my friends who have to read it. It just was not a book that I enjoyed, I didn't like all the different characters none of them seemed to go together and it just jumped from one persons point of view to the other way too much and it was hard to follow. The author used a lot of "texting lingo" and I hated it. I don't think I will recommend it to anyone else. It will be interesting to see what my friends think of it this weekend.
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