Celebrity Writing in America: A Thematic Reader for Composition / Edition 1

Celebrity Writing in America: A Thematic Reader for Composition / Edition 1

by William Vesterman

ISBN-10: 0321328906

ISBN-13: 9780321328908

Pub. Date: 10/01/2005

Publisher: Pearson

Presenting students with essays by pop culture personalities, this new reader is uniquely poised to grab student interest and get them excited about reading, debating, and writing.

With its mixture of serious and light-hearted non-fiction works by celebrities from diverse fields (TV, film, music, stage, sports, and print),


Presenting students with essays by pop culture personalities, this new reader is uniquely poised to grab student interest and get them excited about reading, debating, and writing.

With its mixture of serious and light-hearted non-fiction works by celebrities from diverse fields (TV, film, music, stage, sports, and print), Celebrity Writing in America is definitely one-of-a-kind. Sure to get even the most apathetic students reading, this thematically organized reader moves from essays about the self to essays about the self in the world. Included in this collection are peices by Sammy Sosa, Queen Latifah, Bill Murray, Bill Gates, Rudolph Guilani, and Angelina Jolie. The text also includes visuals for analysis and extensive pedagogy surrounding each reading.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

PREFACE–TO THE INSTRUCTOR–“Celebrating Celebrity Power”



1. Origins and Turning Points

1. Whoopi Goldberg from Book, “Christmas in New York”

“Christmas was it around our house.” Whoopi tells how the rituals involved in the celebration of her holiday made for a family tradition that endures to this day and includes her life long love affair with Alastair Sim.

2. Sissy Spacek, “Homemade”

“I’ve always had a deep sense of pride about being a Texan, and I remember thinking as a little kid, ‘Oh, how lucky I am to be born in Texas, in this little town.”

3. Joe Piscopo, “It’s a Jersey Thing”

“Here in Jersey, we’ve always been second-class citizens; we’re the Rodney Dangerfield of states...but you can joke about it. It’s part of who we are.”

4. Margaret Cho, “Friendless in Frisco”

Her Korean name meant lily, but it sounded like the English word moron. Even in Sunday School she was hounded; even children who had known her all her life were cruel.

5. Sammy Sosa, “Growing Up Poor in Consuelo”

As one of a large family whose father died when Sammy was very young, the boy knew what it was to work and work hard. He also learned about something that was worth more than money.

6. Tom Cruise, “My Struggle to Read”

“I was a functional illiterate,” says the actor who hid his problem with dyslexia for years and finally learned to read only as an adult when he discovered Scientology.

7. Joan Rivers from Bouncing Back, “Responding To Suicide”

Even with that evidence, I still needed time to believe what I was hearing. And these days, as I travel around the country giving my lectures, I learn over and over again that disbelief is an almost universal initial reaction to bad news.

8. Sting, “The Mystery and Religion of Music”

“It’s very hard to talk about music in words. Words are superfluous to the abstract power of music. We can fashion words into poetry so that they are understood in the way music is understood, but they only aspire to the condition where music already exists.”

2. Becoming and Overcoming

1. Queen Latifah, from Revelations of a Strong Woman, “Being a Queen”

“But how do fear, pride, and determination make Dana Owens a queen, you ask? And what right does anyone have to call herself a queen without sounding like one helluvan arrogant sista?” Find out!

2. Bill Murray, from Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf, “The Caddy Shot”

Mr. Caddy-Shack was once a real- life caddy and learned to play golf at odd moments in odd ways. “To me the scariest words in all of golf are, It’s a straight putt.’”

3. Toni Morrison, “Cinderella’s Stepsisters”

“I want not to ask you but to tell you not to participate in the oppression of your sisters.” The award-winning novelist uses an old fairy tale to teach some modern lessons.

4. Lance Armstrong, “Back in the Saddle”

After recovering from cancer, this world-class athlete thought he should enjoy himself until his then wife asked him, “Are you going to be a golf- playing, beer-drinking, Mexican-food-eating slob for the rest of your life?”

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger from Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder, Progressive Resistance Weight Training”

The Governor of California, once Mr. World and five-time Mr. Universe, tells everyone how to make the most of his or her own physical resources one step at a time.

6. P. J. O’Rourke, “On First Looking Into Emily Post”

As a boy he found a world of tact and kindness when he looked into a book on Etiquette. The author of many books of humor and the foreign affairs editor for Rolling Stone remembers what it was like to grow up in Toledo in a house with very different manners from those he read about.

7. Dr. Joyce Brothers,from Positive Plus, “Procrastination”

Dr. Joyce makes a confession and offers a cure: “I have had to fight against my own tendency to procrastinate, and over the years I have devised a system of priorities that works for me.”

3. Significant Others

1. Mick Jagger, “On George Harrison”

One giant figure in the revolution of rock and roll remembers another when he hears of his death. Harrison was a complex person in many ways; Jagger tells us how and why.

2. Mia Farrow, from What Falls Away “With Woody Allen, A House Is NotHome”

“I watched him take a white rubber shower mat (for germs) out of his bag and carry it into the bathroom. But seconds later he emerged with the mat still rolled under his arm. “What happened?” I asked. “What’s wrong?” “The drain is in the middle,” he said, shaking his head dismissively as if I should have known.”

3. Dan Aykroyd, “Michael O’Donoghue”

The writer, actor, and comedian describes the man who met and mentored him on his arrival for the start of Saturday Night Live.

4. LL. Cool J., “Impotent Demon”

When his mother was at work, her boyfriend tortured her young son. “There is nothing worse than being hungry and staring into an empty refrigerator because your mother’s man ate all the food after smoking a pound of week–and then getting a beating for being hungry.”

5. Marc Anthony, “Tito Puente”

Mentor, friend, and pioneer of Latin music, Tito Puente receives a tribute from the singer he helped early on.

6. Alice Walker, “Do It for Someone You Love”

Helping someone to eat right can be an act of love. A visual essay in the form of a public service advertisement by a leading African-American author.

7. Chaka Khan, “Up Close and Personal”

It took this pioneer of music a long time to learn some home truths. Other people were often helping themselves when they were supposed to be helping her, so she finally made her mother her business manager.


4. Finding a Language and a Style

1. Andy Rooney from Not That You Asked…, “A Text for Textbook Writers”

An editor wants to make changes in his one of his essays for use in a text book, “so that the readability will be closer to the seventh grade. In paragraph five I deleted references to cookies, which are junk food and therefore may not be mentioned in textbooks.” Andy explains his problem with her problem.

2. Charles Osgood from The Osgood Files, “%@*&#”

“Gosh! I just found out the doggondest thing! Did you realize that obscene language is on the way out? I sure as heck didn’t.”

3. Miss Manners, “Rudeness Can Be Lethal”

The Arbiter of American Etiquette takes on the dangers of “dissin’.” Not least among them is a danger to your health and well being.

4. Chris Rock from Rock This! “Rockology”

“Rap is to black people what country music is to whites.” With the aid of a chart, Chris explains how our popular culture explains who we are, reflecting “our values, morals, interests, obsessions, ethics, hopes, and dreams.”

5. John Madden from One Knee Equals Two Feet (And Everything Else You Need to know About Football, “My Favorite Guys”

“By nature, some offensive linemen are more aggressive than others, but I love ‘em all. They’re my guys.” Coach tells how he brings out the best of the worst in his linemen in order to teach them what their business is all about–in a businesslike but amusing way.

6. Freddie Prinze, Jr, “Got Milk?”

He made it big–and tall. Find out his secret in this visual argument.

7. Steve Martin, from Pure Drivel, “Writing is Easy”

“If you are going to write about disease, I would suggest that California is the place to do it. Dwarfism is never funny, but look at the result when it was dealt with out here. Seven happy dwarfs.”

5. Self-Presentation

1. Jon Stewart, “Commencement Address at William and Mary

“I am honored to be here to receive this honorary doctorate…As a person I honored to get it; as an alumnus, I have to say I believe we can do better.”

2. Pamela Anderson, “Give Furs the Cold Shoulder”

A public service advertisement gives this actress a chance to support visually the cause of animal rights for PETA–Peaple for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

3. Mary Louise Parker, “On Nudity”

The Red Dragon Lady reveals numerous nuances in nakedness, after agreeing to pose again by Esquire magazine, whose editor somehow preferred that suggestion to all her other story proposals.

4. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, “Rainbow Imperative”

Why are minorities so invisible in public media? According to this activist, Wall Street is the next Civil Rights battlefield. The mission: demanding respect for minorities as consumers and getting the share of advertising media money that goes with it.

5. Jenny McCarthy, “Where the Hell Can I Find a Muumuu?”

6. Russell Simmons, “White People”

One of the biggest black entrepreneurs in America tells how he has learned to deal with whites.

7. Philip McGraw, “We Teach People How to Treat Us”

Dr. Phil tells us that it is we ourselves control the shape of the person other people are responding to.

6. A Business-Like Manner

1. Ben Stein, “Birds and Bees? No, Let’s Talk About Dollars and Cents.”

Farris Beuhler’s teacher and a giver away of money on TV talks about his father’s financial history and his own in a heart to heart talk that tries to teach his son what to expect in life from money.

2. Donald Trump, from How To Get Rich “The Secrets of Negotiation”

The Donald tells us how he makes his deals. Signing the contract is just a mopping up exercise after the real battle has been won by knowing what you want and how to have the other side give it to you.

3. Diane Von Furstenberg, from Diane, “Fashion and Sales”

“With malls taking over America, home shopping essentially brought a television mall into everybody’s home, store by store. And the audience seemed to take to it. In only five years of operation this home shopping channel had amassed forty-two million viewers.”

4. Michael Jordan, “The Nike Deal”

He loved Addidas. Yet he tells us how he got the biggest sneaker endorsement contract in history and managed to get free advertisement on TV all for wearing banned logos.

5. Cokie and Steve Roberts from From This Day Forward, “Problems of a Two-Career Marriage”

The schools don’t take responsibility for the fact that the world has changed. At the first hint of a snowflake, they close at one o’clock in the afternoon and send children home to empty houses and there’s no way for parents to know unless they’ve listened to the radio all day at the office. And how was a mother on the factory line supposed to get the information?”

6. Spike Lee from By Any Means Necessary, “Art and Money in Movies”

“I have to film and market and act accordingly. I want my films to be seen by as many people as possible, and I know a lot of that comes down to not only the quality of the product–which of course has to be good–but marketing.”

7. Chuck D., “Free Music Can Free the Artist”

Public Enemy’s lead rapper takes on file sharing from the point of view of a producer rather than a consumer of popular music.

8. Bill Gates from Business at the Speed of Thought “Adopt the Web Lifestyle”

The Web is not simply a “tool,” says a sometime richest man in the world. Rather, it is a metaphor for a way of thinking and living that you need in modern business if you are not to be left behind by the competition.

9. Oprah Winfrey, “Bringing Beloved to the Screen”

A case history that combines artistic performance with business enterprise. Oprah tells how she came to produce and act in the famous movie version of a famous novel.


7. Serving Your Country and Your World

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Black Tankers of World War II”

from Brothers in Arms comes the story of how blacks made up one of General Patton’s best tank units in an armed forces still segregated by race.

2. Ralph Nader, “Introduction to A Public Citizen’s Action Manual

The founder of consumer activism lays down a plan for making citizenship into what it should be and bringing citizens to a sense of their duties that goes far beyond voting

3. Angelina Jolie, “Mission to Ecuador”

“On June 6, 2002, I undertook a mission to learn about and assist refugees under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ecuador.”

4. Rush Limbaugh, “Conservatives Promote Independence Not Dependency”

“Conservatives have always believed that blacks and other minorities would be better served in the long run by programs that foster independence, rather than those that foster dependency on government.”

5. Jane Fonda, “Use the Media For Public Health!”

“We need the media today (in rich countries as well as poor) to serve as a channel to inform a growing public about healthy practices, sensible lifestyles...”

6. Rudolph Guiliani, “The Big Apple’s Big Blowup”

“The City University of New York’s standards are declining. Only 32 percent of incoming freshmen at CUNY senior colleges pass the basic CUNY skills test in math and writing and reading.” The most famous mayor in America argues that Open Admission has been a mistake.

7. Rosie Perez, “Why Does Rosie Perez Wear the Bracelet?”

Actress, dancer, choreographer–Rosie wears the bracelet to support HIV/AIDS research in this visual public service essay.

8. Classic Performers

1. Regis Philbin, “True Tales from the Miss America Pageant”

“People are yelling, ‘Hey, Regis! REGIS!.’ I wave back and continue to wait. Then a couple of guys come over to keep me company. One of them wants to know if I think he looks like Dustin Hoffman. I tell him Miss New Hampshire looks more like Dustin Hoffman than he does.”

2. Roger Ebert, “Steven Spielberg: The Moviemaker”

Spielberg’s most important contribution to modern movies is his insight that there was an enormous audience to be created if old-style B-Movie stories were made with A-level level craftsmanship and enhanced with t he latest developments in special effects.”

3. Julia Child, “A Slice of History”

Refrigerators, fast food, microwaves---The Doyenne of American Cooking and Pioneering tastemaker reflects on all that has changed in American eating over the past century.

4. Alfred Hitchcock, “My Most Exciting Movie”

The Master of Suspense tells us how he managed to shoot a movie about thrill killers with “wild” sets and a non-stop camera. The joys of technique explained by a famous technician

5. Frank Zappa,” In Defense of Rock and Roll”

A pioneer rocker with The Mothers of Invention defends his art against the attacks of philosopher and social critic Allan Bloom who called rock and roll “a junk food for the soul.”

6. Celia Cruz, “Changing Times”

The Queen of Salsa” was so busy with her own performance that she hardly noticed what was going on with the music video was being made to support her. She was quite shocked when she did find out, but finally had to acknowledge that times really were changing.

7. Mel Brooks, “Springtime for the Music Man in Me”

The composer of “Springtime for Hitler” and other witty ditties describes the shape of a career that led to the smash hit movie, The Producers and to a smash hit musical version of that movie.

8. Hank Aaron, “Race and the Record”

During the summer in which he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, Hammering Hank was on the receiving end of a whole lot of hate mail. It didn’t change his performance but it did change his mind about some hometown fans and their home town.

9. Barry Bonds, “Why Does Barry Bonds Wear the Bracelet?”

Compare the classic slugger’s visual argument to that on the same topic by Rosie Perez in Chapter 7.



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