The New York Times
Death by Leisure: A Cautionary Taleby Chris Ayres
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Published to rave reviews and now available in paperback, Death by Leisure is the incisive, irreverent, and savagely funny story of British journalist Chris Ayres’s attempt to infiltrate the American leisure class (and find true love) in the credit-fueled years before the economic collapse. When the bubble bursts, however, Ayres must learn to live without the billionaire balls, supermodel girlfriends, foie gras pina coladas, and caviar facials to which he’s grown accustomed. Just like the rest of us, alas.
The New York Times
Upon return from embedded duty in Iraq with a marines unit, Ayres, a British journalist, chronicles his brief visit to Los Angeles, the land of glam and glitz. This gonzo-influenced volume opens with Ayres (War Reporting for Cowards) getting the sultry once-over from a beauty in a white bikini at poolside, and everything goes wacky and downhill from there with a bogus assignment to cover singer Michael Jackson, his Neverland estate and his sleepovers. Ayres marvels at the perpetually sunny weather of "the sci-fi metropolis," and the Tinseltown crowd of "Beverly Hill princesses, plum-cheeked hedonists, journalists with notebooks and bad breath, fleets of android publicists, the rich, the very rich." Ayres makes note of this life of excess, eco disasters and obsession with physical perfection. Producing a topsy-turvy carnival ride of a book, Ayres knows how to find the laughs and fantasy in this accomplished satire of Los Angeles. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ayres (War Reporting for Cowards) fancies himself the consummate outsider as a British journalist now living in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, what is supposed to be his witty and self-deprecating look at his life in LA is instead a chore to get through, offering outdated cultural insights (people post sex ads on Craigslist), obvious political observations (the Chinese government owns American bonds), and tired Los Angeles stereotypes (everyone eats alfalfa sprouts). Ayres does not live in the leisure economy, as implied. Instead, he maxes out his credit cards, leases a car he cannot afford, and buys an overpriced home with an overwhelming sense of guilt rather than enjoyment. Instead of a window on life in the leisure economy, Ayres shows us what it's like to be debt-ridden in Los Angeles during the housing bubble and subsequent crash. Ayres wants us to see him as funny and tragic, but he just comes across as tragic. Not recommended.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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What People are saying about this
“Ayres was born to write this book . . . [He is] the perfect chronicler of this imperfect age.” Los Angeles Times
“Fast and funny . . . Global climate change and the collapse of the American home market should not be conflated as easily as they are here, in a gonzo-style book with topics skittering from $1-per-blackhead California facials to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. But Mr. Ayres somehow manages to cram all these elements into his wild-eyed American adventure.” The New York Times
“Hilarious . . . What makes it more than merely clever is the way Ayres turns his own romantic insecurity and material aspiration into a stinging, if sympathetic, indictment of mindless consumption. Yes, we’re destroying the planet, he seems to say, but can we help it, given how pathetic we are? And anyone who can make us laugh at that must be a genius.” Booklist
“A topsy-turvy carnival ride of a book . . . Ayres knows how to find the laughs and fantasy in this accomplished satire.” Publishers Weekly
Meet the Author
Chris Ayres was born in 1975. He joined The Times (London) in 1997 and was media business correspondent before moving to Los Angeles. He is currently the LA correspondent for The Times.
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