The Fame Lunches

The Fame Lunches

On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontës, and the Importance of Handbags

Book - 2014
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Baker & Taylor
"A collection of essays on everything from handbags to John Updike, lip gloss to Michael Jackson, and everything in between"--

McMillan Palgrave

A wide-ranging collection of essays by one of America's most perceptive critics of popular and literary culture

From one of America's most insightful and independent-minded critics comes a remarkable new collection of essays, her first in more than fifteen years. Daphne Merkin brings her signature combination of wit, candor, and penetrating intelligence to a wide array of subjects that touch on every aspect of contemporary culture, from the high calling of the literary life to the poignant underside of celebrity to our collective fixation on fame. "Sometimes it seems to me that the private life no longer suffices for many of us," she writes, "that if we are not observed by others doing glamorous things, we might as well not exist."
Merkin's elegant, widely admired profiles go beneath the glossy façades of neon-lit personalities to consider their vulnerabilities and demons, as well as their enduring hold on us. As her title essay explains, she writes in order "to save myself through saving wounded icons . . . Famous people . . . who required my intervention on their behalf because only I understood the desolation that drove them." Here one will encounter a gallery of complex, unforgettable women—Marilyn Monroe, Courtney Love, Diane Keaton, and Cate Blanchett, among others—as well as such intriguing male figures as Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Truman Capote, and Richard Burton. Merkin reflects with empathy and discernment on what makes them run—and what makes them stumble.
Drawing upon her many years as a book critic, Merkin also offers reflections on writers as varied as Jean Rhys, W. G. Sebald, John Updike, and Alice Munro. She considers the vexed legacy of feminism after Betty Friedan, Bruno Bettelheim's tarnished reputation as a healer, and the reenvisioning of Freud by the elusive Adam Phillips.
Most of all, though, Merkin is a writer who is not afraid to implicate herself as a participant in our consumerist and overstimulated culture. Whether ruminating upon the subtext of lip gloss, detailing the vicissitudes of a pre–Yom Kippur pedicure, or arguing against our obsession with household pets, Merkin helps makes sense of our collective impulses. From a brazenly honest and deeply empathic observer, The Fame Lunches shines a light on truths we often prefer to keep veiled—and in doing so opens up the conversation for all of us.

& Taylor

A collection of essays by the New Yorker former staff writer and author of Dreaming of Hitler examines celebrity in today's hyper-connected world to consider the vulnerabilities of the star façade and today's obsessive culture of sex, money and physical beauty.
An essay collection examines the topic of celebrity, considering the vulnerabilities of the star faðcade and today's obsessive culture of sex, money, and physical beauty.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2014
ISBN: 9780374140373
Branch Call Number: 814.6 MER
Characteristics: xiii, 400 p. ;,24 cm.


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Sep 25, 2018

I'm fond of Daphne Merkin. I like her. I wanted to like this book. And the title essay is amusing and good. ("Merkins unfair to children.") Most of this collection, as technically well written as it is, feels labored. For example, in a rumination on the enduring appeal of the late Princess Diana, do we, as readers, really need for Merkin to establish how chummy-chumikins she is with the overrated editor Tina Brown? Whiffs of Manhattan social-climbing engulf Merkin's endeavors and -- well, you know the rest. Her erudition borders on boredom. I began to wish she were less "ironic" and would just play it straight. The self-indulgence of pieces like the one re getting a manicure on Yom Kippur, and her fake guilt over doing so, overwhelms the author's worthwhile qualities.

Dec 13, 2014

Well done a bit tedious at times (wanted ) certain passages to end quickly but overall I'd re-read it.

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