Monday, November 3, 2008


Recently, I finished Augusten Burrough's first novel, Sellevision. Burroughs is most noted for writing memoirs and true short stories, so this was an interesting read since it was his first piece and his only work of fiction.

To tell you the truth, I read this book because Burroughs is one of my favorite writers, not because of the plot. It took me a while to get into because the plot was obscure, something I wouldn't really pick out on my own. But, by the end, I really got into it, but it was a bit slow until the latter half of the book.

Sellevision is about a 24-hour infomercial television station and all of the anchors that are on the show. One is gay and is fired immediately for a reason I won't disclose, one is Miss Perfect conservative house mom who gets stalked by an angry fan, one wants to replace the housewife, one is older and falls in love (the romance gets sticky), and one is having an affair with the head of the channel. It sounds strange, and parts of it are because a lot of the scenes are the informercials, but if you're into that, you'll really like it.

Do people really watch informercials this much?

I do like how Burroughs portrays informercials and the people who are on them. They have to convey these superficial images and they really take themselves seriously as celebrities, even though they're C-list, if not less than that. Peggy Jean is the best portrayal of this kind of character. His portrayal of her as the naive, conservative housewife who does not really care for her children but more for the image is dead-on. She is super-religious but doesn't live the virtuous life. We see a lot of these around the suburbs.

The book has such a commentary on image and what happens when that is tarnished or destroyed. What happens when your whole career is based on image? What happens when you become so obsessed with it that it runs your life? What happens when you focus too much on the physical characteristics that are just human and normal but you see them as imperfect and unnatural?

Sellevision also deals with addicition, which is always an incredible topic to look into, analyze, and comment on.

So, not a bad book. Not his best, but if you like his style of writing and the obscureness of his ideas, check it out. I still love his style.

What dis you think of Sellevision?

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