I'm Losing You

I'm Losing You

by Bruce Wagner
     
 

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“A writer without mercy . . . this book is like a wire stretched across the throat.” —Oliver Stone

In an epic novel that does for Hollywood what Nashville did for Nashville, I’m Losing You follows the rich and famous and the down and out as their lives intersect in a series of coincidences that exposes the

Overview

“A writer without mercy . . . this book is like a wire stretched across the throat.” —Oliver Stone

In an epic novel that does for Hollywood what Nashville did for Nashville, I’m Losing You follows the rich and famous and the down and out as their lives intersect in a series of coincidences that exposes the “bigger than life” ferocity of Hollywood—and proves that Bruce Wagner is a talent to be reckoned with.  Wagner, author of the novel Dead Stars, examines the psychological complexities of Hollywood reality and fantasy, soaring far beyond the reaches of Robert Stone's Children of Light and Nathaniel West's The Day of the Locust.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
More soap opera than satire, screenwriter Wagner's wildly uneven second novel (after Force Majeure) presents a wide spectrum of loosely connected characters and situations. Set in contemporary Hollywood, the novel's ensemble cast ranges from budding movie stars and high-powered agents to ambitious masseuses and a New Age homeless woman, with such real-life celebrities as Alec Baldwin and Richard Dreyfuss making cameo appearances. Disparate tales are partially connected through several Hollywood dynasties that interact throughout the novel as Wagner performs a ruthless and occasionally quite sharp dissection of Hollywood's caste system. He is at his best when delineating the hierarchy and competitive paranoia of Tinseltown, and there are occasional moments of pathos in his presentation of the psychic toll of ambition. But many of Wagner's characters are stock types who never rise above clich, and much of his humor is correspondingly obvious: it takes more than contempt for one's characters to make an effective satirist. He also takes the low art of name-dropping to new depths, with such obsessive cataloging of celebrities and pop-culture icons that the book begins to read more like a fan magazine than a novel. Likewise the vast cast and lack of central incident, reminiscent of Robert Altman's film Short Cuts, which are unredeemed by any overarching vision. (July)
Library Journal
L.A. bte noire Wagner (TV's Wild Palms) is back, having another go at Hollywood and its scuzzy bottom-feeders, which, if he is to be believed, includes everyone: the players (some of whom are real people) and the played-upon. He spares no one hereexcept perhaps smart-ass social critic novelistsand scathingly covers the field from the scourge of AIDS to zombie movies. The book is a little too delirious for its own good, but the author is consistent and manages to keep his often horrifying characters churning above the wake of his perfervid prose in good soap-opera fashion. Wagner is like Kerouac on brand names and movie lore. If the author can be described as using a sniper's rifle in his excellent novel Force Majeure (St. Martins, 1991), here he wields a sawed-off shotgun, but with less success. The results are often obscene and more often very, very funny, although not for the faint-hearted. Most large fiction collections will want this.David Bartholomew, NYPL
Dwight Garner
Well, here comes the it book of late summer, anointed with flecks of beach water by John Updike in The New Yorker and by The New York Times, which recently featured Wagner in a rare daily author profile. For a second-time novelist -- Wagner is also the author of the cult hit Force Majeure (1991) -- this one-two PR whammy is the equivalent of a film star landing the covers of Vanity Fair and Newsweek.

Here's a heads-up, however, from someone who recently spent eight hours with I'm Losing You, in his lap: Don't buy the buzz, and forgive Updike the (rare) critical misfire. I'm Losing You is indeed caustic and intermittently brilliant, but any stray fireworks are buried beneath mountains of gassy chat, unfiltered gossip and 100-proof psychobabble.

Wagner does have a good feel for low- and mid-level Hollywood lives. I'm Losing You takes its title from what the book's characters shout during fuzzy cell phone conversations, and this story is studded with tart, throw-away observations, from the shape of one former actress' "I-shit-on-you-mouth" to Hollywood's burgeoning number of "H.I.V.I.P.s" -- industry insiders with AIDS.

What the novel lacks, however, are fleshed-out characters and any sense of narrative arc; the action scrolls past as if under a microscope. Dozens of amoeba-like neurotics emerge briefly from the murk -- producers, porn directors, agents, dermatologists, aging stars -- deliver their brassy monologues, and disappear. Everyone is selling something, and the disposable dialogue is peppered with legions of bold-face names:

"Tell you one thing: Dawn Steel would not do a remake of Pasolini's Teorema. She's too smart for that ... Would still kill for Jane Campion (I BRAKE FOR BERTOLUCCI), but Saul says she's booked for like six years. (He actually suggested Amy Heckerling.) I remain adamantine about having a woman at the helm (that's Chayevskypeak -- remember Bill Holden saying that in Network?"

I'm Losing You is already being compared with Nathaniel West's The Day of the Locust and Michael Tolkin's The Player, and Updike's review evoked the ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald. But as talented as Wagner can occasionally be, I'm Losing You -- unlike Tolkin's shrewd and sturdy novel -- evaporates as soon as the final page flickers past. Like a Carrie Fisher book helmed by Oliver Stone, I'm Losing You is arch, creepy, over-the-top -- and infuriatingly static. --Salon

John Updike
Bruce Wagner knows his Hollywood, and writes like a wizard. -- The New Yorker
Walter Kirn
The year's best book. -- New York Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Screenwriter Wagner's second well-done Hollywood novel (Force Majeure, 1991) surveys the mostly sordid L.A. scene from top to bottom, making up for a lack of dramatic focus with lots of hypergossipy vignettes of hustling, deviance, New Age goofiness, and consumer lust—and that's just among the successful.

Wagner's bitchy narrative compiles an index of Hollywood types from pathetic wannabes and has-beens to lucky arrivistes and powerbrokers. Their degrees of separation are much lower than you'd expect, forming a daisy-chain of odd relations, with such sites in common as a children-with-AIDS benefit, a New Age seminar, and restaurants where the help is always on the entertainment make. Mostly, though, Wagner's characters speak in manic monologues, and the result is a cacophony of disembodied cellular voices. They include those of the dying wife of a producer, her hot-shot ICM agent-son, a Big Star with a taste for drugs and melodrama, her drug-pushing doctor, and a psychiatrist's son who makes a living cleaning out dead animals from houses. Women sound off in various genres: A producer hoping to remake Pasolini's Teorema pens her memoir á la Julia Phillips; an insane masseuse claims in her manuscript to have conceived the hottest TV shows; a waitress turned porn star commits her aspirations to a diary; and a TV casting director, hoping to be a movie producer, writes letters to her newborn son, blind from birth and rejected by his coke-addled dad. Wagner dips his pen deep in venom for his portraits of truly despicable characters like mega-hit producer Zev Turtletaub, an obnoxious member of the gay elite, who treats his assistant like a sex slave and has little time for his own sister, dying of AIDS.

Much smarter than the recent bunch of novels and movies on Hollywood, and much more believable for its very lack of a narrative hook.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452299047
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/31/2012
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Will Self
Wagner's latest novel makes all other Hollywood satires Capra-esque in their innocence.

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