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A Massive Swelling [Paperback]

Cintra Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Australia; Reissue edition (26 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014100195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141001951
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 13 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,325,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

A columnist and cultural critic explores the meaning of fame and celebrity in modern-day society, in a provocative, witty colleciton of essays that takes on such icons as Barbra Streisand the role of the diva, Michael Jackson, Bruce Willis, the Academy Awards, athletic spectaculars, and Las Vegas, "The Death Star of Entertainment." Reprint.

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Nature determines what is poisonous to the soul and body, and sometimes it is easy to avoid that which is baneful and unclean: e.g., we naturally have no desire to eat fetid corpses or drink motor oil. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Cintra Wilson, a longstanding columnist for the "San Francisco Examiner" with a substantial cult following, has produced her first book, a series of satirical essays on celebrities and our cultural obsession with them. Wilson nails down the essential creepiness of true fandom with the inclusion of such artifacts as inadvertently deliriously funny and entirely genuine fanmail for "New Kids on the Block", the x-rated writings of adult women to teenage boys.
Her observations appear in chapter-length discussions of Elvis in Vegas, the ever more bizarre persona of Michael Jackson and its psycho-sexual origins, and the LA and New York commonplace of the rabidly, shamlessly ambitious aspiring actor, who defines degradation down in a quest for fame.
Wilson argues that celebrity culture is not only toxic to the egos and even physical well-being of celebrities, but also to ordinary folk, ceaselessly encouraged to regard their own lives as inherently shabbier and less important, going undocumented in gossip columns and tabloids.
Wilson's rages at celebrity culture are startlingly real, and produce unforgettably funny putdowns of figures from Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion to Siegfried & Roy, as the quintessence of the degraded Las Vegas performer.
Easily one of the most uproarious and literate works of pop cultural commentary available. Wilson is a true original.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never read anything like this before: stiletto-commentary! 25 July 2001
By Erin O'Brien - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Cintra Wilson, a former, longstanding columnist for the "San Francisco Examiner" with a substantial cult following, has produced her first book, a series of satirical essays on celebrities and our cultural obsession with them.
Wilson nails down the essential creepiness of true fandom with the inclusion of such artifacts as an entirely genuine boxful of inadvertently deliriously funny fanmail for "New Kids on the Block": the tragically illiterate x-rated writings of desperate, usually suburban, adult women to teenage boys.
Her observations appear in chapter-length discussions of Elvis in Vegas; the ever more bizarre persona of Michael Jackson and its psycho-sexual origins; and the LA and New York commonplace of the rabidly, shamelessly ambitious aspiring actor, who defines degradation down in a quest for fame.
Wilson argues that celebrity culture is not only toxic to the egos and even physical well-being of celebrities, but also to ordinary folk, ceaselessly encouraged to regard their own lives as inherently shabbier and less important, going undocumented in gossip columns and tabloids.
Wilson's rages at celebrity culture are startlingly real, and produce unforgettably, cruelly funny putdowns of figures from divas Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion, to Siegfried & Roy, as the quintessence of the degraded Las Vegas performer. One can only wonder at what private events befell Wilson to produce this magnificent fury at the fame machine, and a wild attack on its cogs and wheels.
Easily one of the most uproarious and literate works of pop cultural commentary available. Wilson is a true original.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should Include a Disclaimer... 24 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Cintra is my favorite columnist in Salon magazine, and I was really looking forward to this book. I was disappointed, however, to discover that most of the book consists of material that has already appeared in Salon (and can still be read by accessing her archived columns). Although I don't regret buying the book, I'm a little surprised that it doesn't include a disclaimer that it "contains previously published material" or something to that effect.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The anti-lobotomy for celebrity junkies 19 Oct 2001
By Alicia Trees - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My, wasn't I surprised to find someone who loathed Celine Dion as much as I do! Cintra Wilson's funny, fearless deconstruction of these so-called icons will surely immunize you against the cult of celebrity. Her chapter on young ice skaters and gymnasts broadens our scope of what this celebrity-thing is that people seek: sometimes involving a search for immortality (via plastic surgery, numerous dye jobs, changes in stage personae) and deification (sometimes resulting in an Oscar, a Grammy, or getting one's face on a cereal box)... Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Barbara Streisand - even Elvis - will never look the same to me again. Her criticism is scathing at times but very thoughtful: these are not random rants.
I was unfamiliar with Cintra Wilson's Salon column when I read "A Massive Swelling," but it doesn't surprise me that the book functions somewhat as an anthology of past writings. It does have that feel to it. I definitely don't think this weakens the book for the newcomer to her writings. I think it's a good sign that folks are mostly upset about not finding newer works from her. It just means we're all looking forward to what she has coming up next.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a tangential analysis of putrid american mind rot 14 Jan 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Madame Cintra hath hit the nail on the head, tiny and misshapen as that head may be. The central issue here is the mutation of Fame, once an aura that cloaked the highly accomplished as an epiphenomenon, has now become a purely mundane commodity, like sterilized cow manure. CW focuses her incredulous disgust at the most shameless of perpetrators, but one suspects her real targets are not the megelomaniac freaks on the stage, but the mindless legions of zombies that consume the fetid swill as if it were ambrosia of the gods. Fame is now the "radioactive beef" that moronizes both the performer and the audience, in differing ways and in differing degrees. Of course, lurking in the shadows is the implicit recognition of the Corporate absorbtion of Everything into one great happy, megamerged obedience school for lobotomized work-a-trolls who should be thankful for a pizza with The Works as a reward for good company boy self abasement. Corporatism isn't directly assaulted in this book, undoubtedly because Madame Cintra has the acumen to fly under the radar of hidden forms of censorship. But have no doubt, Corporatism is the cause, as it needs to reduce everything it touches into a return maximizing, clearcutting, fume belching money machine. But, know the disease by its symptoms. Superstardom that has evolved into a different Ontological category; Audiences as mass consumers of plasticized crud, the Media as docile and cuddly PR pets, who will say or do almost anything if the price is right. Ms. Wilson, for all her hyperbole and contortionism, is essentially right on in her analysis of the situation, and just about the only person on the scene with the guts and wit to tell it like it is, without shrivelling into the typical careerist bet hedging gooey eyed flattery spewing baby talking goo goo neurotic greasy pole shinnying imbecile. My hat goes of to her. More power to ya, babe.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts brilliantly, fades to black 23 Aug 2002
By J. Gifford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wilson's razor-sharp commentary cuts apart why-celebs such as Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, examining how they became famous at the expense of our culture. Wilson skins musicians, esp. Michael Jackson, as well as fashion models, wannabe film actors, authors, and the theater in her inimitable caustic tone.
At times, Wilson is brilliant in carving new holes in the already-thin fabric of celebrity. Later in the book, however, you can tell that she and her editor have sewn together her columns from salon.com, which, though wonderful as columns, do not come together to form a cohesive argument. In a way, Wilson has become a victim of her own fame, toddling out used commentary and selling it as new, like a remake of a Hollywood favorite, starring Peter Scolari and Molly Ringwald.
This book is mostly enjoyable, however. You'll flag sections of it to read later to your friends, or when you hear Dion's "eye-bleeding" rendition of that awful Titanic song and need your own little way to get back at her.
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