Monday, November 5, 2007

Fame Junkies, by Jake Halpern

Finally something I really had fun reading! I loved Braving Home by Halpern- that was a fantastic book, and I was thrilled to see another by him.

This time he takes a look at celebrity culture in America, from a few different angles. He attends a talent expo in NYC, following teens from Buffalo whose parents have invested thousands of dollars in acting and modeling classes, in hopes that their child will 'make it'. He interviews celebrity assistants, who devote their lives to making sure that their celebrity gets everything they want exactly when they want it. He interviews fan-club presidents, in one of the saddest sections in the book, and he interviews academics who have based their careers on studying fame, and who seem to teeter narrowly on an ethical edge- between studying monkeys who will give up Juicy Juice to look at dominant males and female hindquarters, one professor guages his success by his appearances on the Today show and Good Morning America.

The numbers Halpern tosses around are familiar- the terrifying expectations of teens today that they will be famous, the percentage of teens who think that they are uniquely talented and deserving of fame, the sad but true fact that lonely people are more likely to want fame, but he is such a good writer that none of it seems repetitive.

His obvious empathy for his subjects is clear here, and although in Braving Home, his writing was tinged with a little bit of awe for those wacky people living in a lava ruined town or on top of a coal fire, in this book there might be a tinge of sorrow. Ludicrous dedication to the idea of home, I think he kind of admired, but ludicrous dedication to Rod Steward, I think made him sad, as it did me.

Fun, quick, interesting read. Can't wait to read his next book. If I was a writer, I would want to be able to write like Halpern. Can't say anything better than that.

Quality: 9 Popularity: 9 Overall: 18

Fame Junkies

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