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Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics

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"Cleavage is very 1960s: it shows off the new permissiveness. (Look! we can reveal most of Elizabeth Taylor's breasts!) Cleavage is not nudity. Cleavage is a promise: not sight, but on the verge of sight."                [p. 138]

In this brilliantly shrewd, hilarious collection of essays, cultural critic and acclaimed writer Wayne Koestenbaum exposes all that ...
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Overview


"Cleavage is very 1960s: it shows off the new permissiveness. (Look! we can reveal most of Elizabeth Taylor's breasts!) Cleavage is not nudity. Cleavage is a promise: not sight, but on the verge of sight."                [p. 138]

In this brilliantly shrewd, hilarious collection of essays, cultural critic and acclaimed writer Wayne Koestenbaum exposes all that provokes, intimidates, heartens, and arouses us in matters of style, celebrity, obscenity, and art.

Armed with a bold curiosity, a stinging wit, and a subversive sense of wordplay, Koestenbaum reflects on a dazzling array of subjects. Here are the outsized emotions inflamed by Sophia Loren, Robert Mapplethorpe, and locker-room nudity . . . vivid dreams of flirting with Bill Clinton and resurrecting Bette Davis from the dead . . . the intangible joys of thrifting . . . the true meaning of masculinity . . . and the indelible sensation that two scoops of vanilla flesh, heaving incongruously in a 70-millimeter musical, made on a young boy of impressionable age.

From the rigors of a day spent with Melanie Griffith ("Melanie Time") to the healing powers of a gray Prada suit ("Diary of a Suit") to moving meditations on the importance of reading ("Why I Read"), this volume is an irresistible exploration of culture and identity in America. If celebrity is—as Koestenbaum suggests—an earthquake, then Cleavage is the aftershock.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to Koestenbaum, culture is all around us: in movie magazines, paparazzi, Robert Mapplethorpe's photos, Princess Di's dresses and, of course, Liz Taylor. After deconstructing gay men and opera (The Queen's Throat) and prominent first ladies (Jackie Under My Skin), the ever-observant Koestenbaum has assembled in these 49 reprinted essays an idiosyncratic overview of the state of U.S. popular culture as well as his own mind. His charm and power as a writer reside in his ability to wed his own obsessions with the most serious and the most frivolous of cultural manifestations. For him, a meditation on Oscar Wilde's trial prompts the statement, "I... believe that desire is extreme and anti-social." An essay on Elizabeth Taylor moves easily from her looks to his own gender identity: "After watching Elizabeth Taylor movies I feel eerily masculine. Her beauty shoves me out of maleness and compresses me back into it." In a less astute or self-aware writer, such leaps might read as simple narcissism or miscalculated post-modern posturing, but Koestenbaum is able to combine personal writing and cultural analysis in a way that advances both with poise and intelligence. While some of the pieces are less substantial--such as his quirky short essays on envy and masochism--Koestenbaum delivers when he writes most personally. "The Aryan Boy," an introspective essay on masculinity, homosexuality and Jewish identity, shows the author at his best: moving, insightful and fueled by his ability to shock, provoke and challenge. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kaufman
At their best, the essays collected in Cleavage can be as intense as poetry, and are, occasionally, elegant.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345434609
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.88 (d)

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