Dead Stars

Bruce Wagner. Penguin/Blue Rider, $30 (656p) ISBN 978-0-399-15935-0
In Wagner’s latest “entertainment” (after Memorial), aging, struggling screenwriter Bud Wiggins (from Wagner’s debut, Force Majeure) is tapped to script a film for 12-year-old Biggie Brainard, the damaged brain behind booming Ooh Baby Baby productions. Biggie yearns for his mother and tracks her online as she spelunks the caves of the world. Bud lives with his mother, Dolly, and longs for the day she dies. Their chapters are braided with that of other Hollywood stars and black holes: Michael Douglas dreams of remaking All That Jazz, with a few major changes. Reeyonna, a pregnant teen, runs away from her mother, Jacquie (a Sally Mann-like artist-cum-Sears-Portrait-Studio photographer), with her “pharaoh-looking” boyfriend, Rikki—a foster kid, aspiring actor, and porn addict—to live with female American Idol reject, drug dealer, and sex fiend Tom-Tom, who’s squatting in Betty White’s house with Reeyonna’s half-brother Jerzy, “the first snatcherazzo” to get a photo of Dakota Fanning stepping out of a vehicle, sans panties. Jerzy’s addiction to “bootie bumpin” (meth and water applied anally) fuels a diabolical word-play and deepening delusion that Eminem is slowly enslaving the world. Written in hyper-hilarious, brilliant prose, the book renders an obsessive pop-culture nightmare of surprising realism and light, illuminating the meanest corners of its characters’—and our culture’s—desperation. Agent: Andrew Wylie. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/02/2012
Release date: 08/02/2012
Paperback - 604 pages - 978-0-14-219687-8
Open Ebook - 656 pages - 978-1-101-59995-2
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