Sellevision

Augusten Burroughs, Author St. Martin's Griffin $11.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-26772-8
A relentless spoof of cable's home-shopping mania shamelessly borrows from gossip tabloids, TV talk shows and the endlessly loopy world of advertising. This first novel dives behind the scenes of Sellevision, ""America's premier retail broadcasting network,"" as the channel confronts its first juicy scandal. Much-loved and handsome host Max Andrews has accidentally exposed his private parts during a ""Toys for Tots"" segment, and the flood of invective from outraged viewers forces the network to fire him. Though Max struggles to find another job, he bounces back nicely by segueing into an adult-film career. Meanwhile, another beloved host, prim and perky Peggy Jean Smythe, receives insulting e-mail from a mysterious fan named Zoe, whose snide commentary about Peggy's hairy earlobes and clumpy mascara sends Peggy over the edge into Valium addiction and heavy drinking. Peggy Jean's picture-perfect family is on the rocks, too: her husband, John, is happily seducing the nubile and willing 16-year-old next door. While Peggy Jean seeks solace through the guidance of Debby Boone and rehab, someone else must step in to peddle the Princess Diana memorabilia and the Dazzling Diamonelle merchandise. Either of two lead candidates for the job may also be the creepy e-mail stalker: Trish Mission, the innocent, young newcomer, or Leigh Bushmore, executive producer Howard Toast's mistress. This kaleidoscope of gleefully salacious intrigue aims to titillate and amuse in a purposefully over-the-top way. Advertising copywriter Burroughs throws in some witty zingers but, overall, the energy of this satire of commercial madness almost peters out before the last FuturePop Popcorn Popper or Moisture-Whik Control Panties are sold. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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