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How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior

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How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior Cover

ISBN13: 9780805089790
ISBN10: 0805089799
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Step right up, take a seat, every one of them front row. Ah, here's our cast now: A lovelorn astronaut driving cross-country wearing a diaper, thus avoiding pit-stops on her way to pepper-spray her former lover's girlfriend. Here's lisping literary fabulist James Frey, who basked in the commercial sunshine that is Oprah and was later pinned under her magnifying glass in what might be the greatest episode of Schadenfreude TV ever. And what pantheon of humiliation is complete without Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky's double-crossing, wire-wearing, dry-clean-averse gal pal, whose atrocious behavior was, as Laura Kipnis points out in her highly entertaining and wickedly smart How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior, matched by her remarkable physical ugliness." Laura Kipnis, The Oregonian (Read the entire Oregonian review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

We all relish a good scandal — the larger the figure (governor, judge) and more shocking the particulars (diapers, cigars) — the better. But why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them, hurling our condemnations while savoring every lurid detail?

With "pointed daggers of prose" (The New Yorker), Laura Kipnis examines contemporary downfall sagas to lay bare the American psyche: what we desire, what we punish, and what we disavow. She delivers virtuoso analyses of four paradigmatic cases: a lovelorn astronaut, an unhinged judge, a venomous whistleblower, and an over-imaginative memoirist. The motifs are classic — revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness — though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception — the necessary ingredients — are our collective plight.

In How to Become a Scandal, bad behavior is the entry point for a brilliant cultural romp as well as an anti-civics lesson. "Shove your rules," says scandal, and no doubt every upright citizen, deep within, cheers the transgression — as long as it's someone else's head on the block.

Review:

"Two very public downfalls and two very public uproars guide us through the contemporary infernal regions of scandal: the downfall of 'the lovelorn astronaut,' Lisa Nowak, and 'an unreasonable judge,' Sol Wachter, and the uproar set off by Linda Tripp and James Frey. Familiar as they may be, Kipnis (Against Love) freshly illuminates her subjects' plights, while scrutinizing the public delight in their misfortune, wearing her learning so lightly that the reader is easily seduced by her quick wit and her camouflaged erudition. Kipnis ties psychoanalysis and reality TV, detectives and literary critics, talk show hosts and sociologists, along with the scandalizers and the scandalized into a persuasive bundle: 'Scandals aren't just fiascoes other people get themselves embroiled in while the rest of us go innocently about our business,' she argues. 'We all have crucial roles to play.' A deliciously flippant tone serves the reader the juicy details we savor so about scandal, while tossing in some timeless questions and speculations about the deeper meaning of it all ('free will, moral luck, the stranglehold of desire, the difference between right and wrong') as though they were mere garniture. This is a dead serious book that's an utter lark to read. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"Confessed scandal fan Kipnis picks through the mortifying carnage of other people's lives, exploring why we both relish and condemn bad behavior....Light and fun." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Those who think they are playing to an unseen audience often find that they are abruptly on stage without a stitch. Why do they need this validation and why do we so much enjoy providing it? In How to Become a Scandal Laura Kipnis investigates the dirty habits of the heart and illuminates the secret places of the psyche, speculating brilliantly and amusingly about the trouble to which people will go to get themselves exposed." Christopher Hitchens, author of Hitch-22

Review:

"A brilliant original analysis of our culture's addiction to scandal. Kipnis illuminates her subjects with such wit and perception that she raises the art of critical writing to new heights. She makes you laugh and think. Brava." Patricia Bosworth, author of Marlon Brando

Review:

"'Know thyself,' the ancient Greeks commanded. Far easier commanded than obeyed, as Laura Kipnis demonstrates in this incisive, hilarious, and, er, penetrating look at four modern American scandals, all of which involve self-destructiveness of the highest and most bewildering order. In ways as delicious and disturbing as the transgressions themselves, she tells us why we love this stuff." Daniel Menaker, author of A Good Talk

Review:

"Read Laura Kipnis's new book if you're hoping to become the object of a media feeding frenzy. Read it if you're hoping to avoid one. Either way, it will leave you delighted and ten times smarter about the workings of our media-celebrity complex. This is cultural criticism of a high order." Jacob Weisberg, author of The Bush Tragedy

Review:

"An extremely smart, funny, acid, and beautifully written meditation on a profound truth that we all try desperately to ignore: we are deeply divided animals, and we are drawn to the creation of our own demise." David Shields, author of Reality Hunger

Review:

“Kipnis delivers all the lurid, lowbrow pleasures of scandal-voyeurism redeemed by the Apollonian grace of wit and intellect.” Jim Holt, author of Stop Me If You've Heard This

Synopsis:

We all relish a good scandal—the larger the figure (governor, judge) and more shocking the particulars (diapers, cigars)—the better. But why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them, hurling our condemnations while savoring every lurid detail?

With "pointed daggers of prose" (The New Yorker), Laura Kipnis examines contemporary downfall sagas to lay bare the American psyche: what we desire, what we punish, and what we disavow. She delivers virtuoso analyses of four paradigmatic cases: a lovelorn astronaut, an unhinged judge, a venomous whistleblower, and an over-imaginative memoirist. The motifs are classic—revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness—though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception—the necessary ingredients—are our collective plight. In How to Become a Scandal, bad behavior is the entry point for a brilliant cultural romp as well as an anti-civics lesson. "Shove your rules," says scandal, and no doubt every upright citizen, deep within, cheers the transgression—as long as it's someone else's head on the block.

Synopsis:

A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice

We all relish a good scandal. Why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them? The motifs are classic—revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness—though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception—the necessary ingredients—are our collective plight. How to Become a Scandal is “an extremely smart, funny, acid, and beautifully written meditation on a scary truth that we all try desperately to ignore” (David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto).

About the Author

Laura Kipnis is the author of Against Love: A Polemic and The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability, which have been translated into fifteen languages. She is a professor in the Radio-TV-Film Department at Northwestern University and has contributed to Slate, Harper's, Playboy, the Nation, and the New York Times magazine. She lives in New York and Chicago.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

OneMansView, October 27, 2010 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Shove your rules (3.25*s)

As a media professor, who better to comment on the perfect subject matter for the media, that is, scandals. They represent perfect opportunities for new, titillating content practically handed over on a silver platter with great potential for large profits. The author claims that the basics of scandals have largely gone unexamined. This book is the result. It is an insightful and entertaining, though somewhat fragmented, examination of all sides of scandals, but does not exactly rise to the level of a “theory of scandals,” as she contends. Her representative scandals focus on a disgraced New York governor, a love-struck astronaut, a NYC chief judge who was lured into an affair by a distant relative, a confidant who exposed her friend in the quite infamous White House affair, and a TV book club author who wrote an almost totally fictitious memoir,

The notion of scandal is not cut-and-dried; it is not a legalistic concept. Scandalous behavior may be a crime, but more important, it violates current, but ever shifting, social norms to the degree that a sizeable audience finds the predicament mesmerizing. The most intriguing question is of course why anyone would put themselves at the center of a scandal, especially the highly intelligent persons profiled in this book, when the end result is almost invariably ruination. Explanations that we compartmentalize our behavior so that the rational portion or our brain is unaware of the irrational side or that we lack self-knowledge seem unconvincing.

Explaining the public’s reactions is perhaps even more difficult. The initial reaction of “How could (s)he?” hardly diminishes interest. Continuing with the contradictions, one suspects that a “holier-than-thou” feeling actually conceals a realization that any one of us could be in the same boat. Of course, the primary response is the desire to see the miscreant flogged in public. Nonetheless, revealing a scandal can be treacherous ground; the boomerang effect can quickly come into play. After all, scandals are media events; the involved individuals have, perhaps unknowingly, become characters in a TV drama and are subject to performance and appearance standards. The combination of attractiveness and an agreeable personality has a vast influence on who is viewed sympathetically. The older woman, widely perceived as “ugly,” dumpy, and harshly accusatory, who revealed the infamous White House affair in the late 90s, found herself subjected to an onslaught of devastating late night humor. Her claims of acting in the name of patriotism were roundly rejected.

The difficulty of pinning down scandal is somewhat shown in the author lumping together those caught in scandals and those willing to make a spectacle of themselves. Most of the leading figures of scandals have not actively sought the limelight. On the contrary, there now seems to be a small industry in those willing to reveal all of the gory details of their addictions (food, sex, drugs, etc) and compulsions. However, the identification and voyeuristic elements of the audience seem to be present regardless of how the person comes to the public’s eye. The author is correct to note that the same sorts of self-delusions are at work.

One well-known daytime TV talk-show hostess has exposed her inability to deal with her weight for years, all the while keeping her mostly female viewers absorbed in her efforts and failures. The author points out that the entire saga of excuses, successes, and slippages has been played for maximum audience impact and differs only in degree in specious details from the best-selling, graphically written memoir by one of her book club author’s, who she thoroughly rebuked on her show for fictionalizing his experiences.

The author has a smart, impertinent, witty, self-deprecating, and somewhat complex writing style that keeps her books very interesting. Her cultural commentary is generally quite incisive; she is more than willing to slice through convention. Pithy comments dot the book. For example, she suggests we need scandals; they are a “purification ritual.” Some have suggested that she oversteps with her psychological commentary, which of course does not square with the fact that the entire subject is psychological. However, all of the clever comments do not really add up to a theory of scandal. Some of her case studies are not particularly engaging. It is a little surprising that she did not make more effort to apply the insights that she postulated in Against Love to the sexual scandals she covered here. It is true that most of the details of these cases are well known. Nonetheless the author’s take on the subject could be an interesting read for fans and others. It is unusual that every review to this point has been off of a freely distributed copy – don’t know what that means.

The author gets the last word:

“Despite the brutality of the deterrents, scandal thrives; in fact, new candidates are queuing even now, just waiting for the nod. All that ‘s required is a lapse of self-knowledge (pretty much the human condition), the right opportunity (not that difficult to arrange), a few errant desires (who doesn’t want more of something, hungry babyish selves that we are?), and you’re in business.”

“You can almost hear scandal scoffing, ‘Shove your rules!’”
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805089790
Subtitle:
Adventures in Bad Behavior
Author:
Kipnis, Laura
Publisher:
Metropolitan Books
Subject:
Interpersonal Relations
Subject:
Deviant behavior
Subject:
Scandals.
Subject:
Social Psychology
Subject:
Psychology : General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20100831
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
19 bandw photos throughout
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Media

How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805089790 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Two very public downfalls and two very public uproars guide us through the contemporary infernal regions of scandal: the downfall of 'the lovelorn astronaut,' Lisa Nowak, and 'an unreasonable judge,' Sol Wachter, and the uproar set off by Linda Tripp and James Frey. Familiar as they may be, Kipnis (Against Love) freshly illuminates her subjects' plights, while scrutinizing the public delight in their misfortune, wearing her learning so lightly that the reader is easily seduced by her quick wit and her camouflaged erudition. Kipnis ties psychoanalysis and reality TV, detectives and literary critics, talk show hosts and sociologists, along with the scandalizers and the scandalized into a persuasive bundle: 'Scandals aren't just fiascoes other people get themselves embroiled in while the rest of us go innocently about our business,' she argues. 'We all have crucial roles to play.' A deliciously flippant tone serves the reader the juicy details we savor so about scandal, while tossing in some timeless questions and speculations about the deeper meaning of it all ('free will, moral luck, the stranglehold of desire, the difference between right and wrong') as though they were mere garniture. This is a dead serious book that's an utter lark to read. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "Step right up, take a seat, every one of them front row. Ah, here's our cast now: A lovelorn astronaut driving cross-country wearing a diaper, thus avoiding pit-stops on her way to pepper-spray her former lover's girlfriend. Here's lisping literary fabulist James Frey, who basked in the commercial sunshine that is Oprah and was later pinned under her magnifying glass in what might be the greatest episode of Schadenfreude TV ever. And what pantheon of humiliation is complete without Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky's double-crossing, wire-wearing, dry-clean-averse gal pal, whose atrocious behavior was, as Laura Kipnis points out in her highly entertaining and wickedly smart How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior, matched by her remarkable physical ugliness." (Read the entire Oregonian review)
"Review" by , "Confessed scandal fan Kipnis picks through the mortifying carnage of other people's lives, exploring why we both relish and condemn bad behavior....Light and fun."
"Review" by , "Those who think they are playing to an unseen audience often find that they are abruptly on stage without a stitch. Why do they need this validation and why do we so much enjoy providing it? In How to Become a Scandal Laura Kipnis investigates the dirty habits of the heart and illuminates the secret places of the psyche, speculating brilliantly and amusingly about the trouble to which people will go to get themselves exposed."
"Review" by , "A brilliant original analysis of our culture's addiction to scandal. Kipnis illuminates her subjects with such wit and perception that she raises the art of critical writing to new heights. She makes you laugh and think. Brava."
"Review" by , "'Know thyself,' the ancient Greeks commanded. Far easier commanded than obeyed, as Laura Kipnis demonstrates in this incisive, hilarious, and, er, penetrating look at four modern American scandals, all of which involve self-destructiveness of the highest and most bewildering order. In ways as delicious and disturbing as the transgressions themselves, she tells us why we love this stuff."
"Review" by , "Read Laura Kipnis's new book if you're hoping to become the object of a media feeding frenzy. Read it if you're hoping to avoid one. Either way, it will leave you delighted and ten times smarter about the workings of our media-celebrity complex. This is cultural criticism of a high order."
"Review" by , "An extremely smart, funny, acid, and beautifully written meditation on a profound truth that we all try desperately to ignore: we are deeply divided animals, and we are drawn to the creation of our own demise."
"Review" by , “Kipnis delivers all the lurid, lowbrow pleasures of scandal-voyeurism redeemed by the Apollonian grace of wit and intellect.”
"Synopsis" by , We all relish a good scandal—the larger the figure (governor, judge) and more shocking the particulars (diapers, cigars)—the better. But why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them, hurling our condemnations while savoring every lurid detail?

With "pointed daggers of prose" (The New Yorker), Laura Kipnis examines contemporary downfall sagas to lay bare the American psyche: what we desire, what we punish, and what we disavow. She delivers virtuoso analyses of four paradigmatic cases: a lovelorn astronaut, an unhinged judge, a venomous whistleblower, and an over-imaginative memoirist. The motifs are classic—revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness—though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception—the necessary ingredients—are our collective plight. In How to Become a Scandal, bad behavior is the entry point for a brilliant cultural romp as well as an anti-civics lesson. "Shove your rules," says scandal, and no doubt every upright citizen, deep within, cheers the transgression—as long as it's someone else's head on the block.

"Synopsis" by , A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice

We all relish a good scandal. Why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them? The motifs are classic—revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness—though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception—the necessary ingredients—are our collective plight. How to Become a Scandal is “an extremely smart, funny, acid, and beautifully written meditation on a scary truth that we all try desperately to ignore” (David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto).

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