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Ruthless ambition. Sex with minors. And Princess Diana key fobs. Operators are standing by.

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Ruthless ambition. Sex with minors. And Princess Diana key fobs. Operators are standing by.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Daily News
An absolute howl, about on-camera personalities who sell things on those home-shopper channels. This one has its characters fall apart very publicly: One is axed after he accidentally exposes himself on air. Another is the target of a surprising stalker. And so on.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A relentless spoof of cable's home-shopping mania shamelessly borrows from gossip tabloids, TV talk shows and the endlessly loopy world of advertising. This first novel dives behind the scenes of Sellevision, "America's premier retail broadcasting network," as the channel confronts its first juicy scandal. Much-loved and handsome host Max Andrews has accidentally exposed his private parts during a "Toys for Tots" segment, and the flood of invective from outraged viewers forces the network to fire him. Though Max struggles to find another job, he bounces back nicely by segueing into an adult-film career. Meanwhile, another beloved host, prim and perky Peggy Jean Smythe, receives insulting e-mail from a mysterious fan named Zoe, whose snide commentary about Peggy's hairy earlobes and clumpy mascara sends Peggy over the edge into Valium addiction and heavy drinking. Peggy Jean's picture-perfect family is on the rocks, too: her husband, John, is happily seducing the nubile and willing 16-year-old next door. While Peggy Jean seeks solace through the guidance of Debby Boone and rehab, someone else must step in to peddle the Princess Diana memorabilia and the Dazzling Diamonelle merchandise. Either of two lead candidates for the job may also be the creepy e-mail stalker: Trish Mission, the innocent, young newcomer, or Leigh Bushmore, executive producer Howard Toast's mistress. This kaleidoscope of gleefully salacious intrigue aims to titillate and amuse in a purposefully over-the-top way. Advertising copywriter Burroughs throws in some witty zingers but, overall, the energy of this satire of commercial madness almost peters out before the last FuturePop Popcorn Popper or Moisture-Whik Control Panties are sold. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly

This gleeful satire of America's 24-hour, shop-till-you-drop culture lacks the depth and razor-sharp wit of Burrough's more established works (Running with Scissors, Magical Thinking, etc.), but the audio's colorful characters, brought skillfully to life by Miles, ensure that it's an entertaining ride. Initially, the choice of a female narrator surprises—since the story opens with Sellevision host Max Andrews getting booted from his position after accidentally exposing his penis during a "Toys for Tots" shopping segment. But as the audio meanders through the lives of hosts Peggy Jean Smythe, Trish Mission, Leigh Bushmore and Bebe Friedman, it becomes clear that Miles is well suited to the task. She adopts an appropriately prissy tone for the devout Peggy Jean while at the same time playing up the sleaziness of Peggy's husband, who's on a mission to seduce the nubile teen next door. Miles also does a fine job capturing Bebe's New York twang, mile-a-minute chatter and spontaneous laughter. Although Burroughs's characters often seem as disposable as the RemoteControLotion and Moisture-Whik Panties sold on Sellevision, this audio, like a good soap opera, still manages to hook listeners. A Picador paperback (Reviews, July 31, 2000). (Dec.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
People of the hoots of this fall.
Kirkus Reviews
A first novel that tries for the fierce bite of satire but ends up with not much more than nasty little nibbles at the familiar.
From the Publisher
"Sellevision is brilliant, subversive, and marvelously evil. In this stunningly fresh debut, Augusten Burroughs has redefined the edge. This is TV Guide for the morally bereft and spiritually bankrupt. Thank God. I feel queasy I didn't write it."—Suzanne Finnamore, author of Otherwise Engaged

"A painfully hilarious look at the dark side of consumer capitalism and the perils of third-tier celebrity. Days after reading it, I'm still buoyed by the invigorating malice I encountered on virtually every page. Augusten Burroughs has slam-dunked the zeitgeist."—Robert Rodi, author of Kept Boy

"Savvy, very entertaining. Is there a funnier combination than fast-moving soap opera and tawdry comedy? Underneath all the lunacy lies a grim truth: the thin line separating grotesque satire and everyday reality has been erased and will never exist again."—Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312422288
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 331,829
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs was raised in Amherst, Massachusetts. An advertising copywriter since the age of 19, he lives in New York City. Sellevision is his first novel.


Although Augusten Burroughs achieved moderate success with his debut novel, Sellevision, it was his 2002 memoir, Running with Scissors, that catapulted him into the literary stratosphere. Indeed, few writers have spun a bizarre childhood and eccentric personal life into literary gold with as much wit and panache as Burroughs, whose harrowing accounts of dysfunction and addiction are offset by an acerbic humor readers and critics find irresistible.

Born Christopher Robison (he changed his name when he turned 18), Burroughs is the son of an alcoholic father who abandoned his family and a manic-depressive mother who fancied herself a poet in the style of Anne Sexton. At age 12, he was farmed out to his mother's psychiatrist, a deeply disturbed -- and disturbing -- man whose medical license was ultimately revoked for gross misconduct. In Running with Scissors, Burroughs recounts his life with the pseudonymous Finch family as an experience tantamount to being raised by wolves. The characters he describes are unforgettable: children of assorted ages running wild through a filthy, dilapidated Victorian house, totally unfettered by rules or inhibitions; a variety of deranged patients who take up residence with the Finches seemingly at will; and a 33-year-old pedophile who lives in the backyard shed and initiates an intense, openly homosexual relationship with the 13-year-old Burroughs right under the doctor's nose.

That he is able to wring humor and insight out of this shocking scenario is testimony to Burroughs's writing skill. Upon its publication in 2002, Scissors was hailed as "mordantly funny" (Los Angeles Times), "hilarious" (San Francisco Chronicle), and "sociologically suggestive and psychologically astute" (The New York Times). The book became a #1 bestseller and was turned into a 2006 movie starring Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, and Joseph Fienes.

[Although the doctor who "raised" Burroughs was never named in the memoir, six members of the real-life family sued the author and his publisher for defamation, claiming that whole portions of the book were fabricated. Burroughs insisted that the book was entirely accurate but agreed in the 2007 settlement to change the wording of the author's note and acknowledgement in future editions of the book. He was never required to change a single word of the memoir itself.]

Since Running with Scissors, Burroughs has mined snippets of his life for more bestsellers, including further installments of his memoir (Dry, A Wolf at the Table) and several well-received collections of razor-sharp essays. His writing continues to appear in newspapers and magazines around the world, and he is a regular contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Burroughs:

"When I was very young, maybe six or seven, I used to make little books out of construction paper and wallpaper. Then I'd sew the spine of the book with a needle and thread. Only after I had the actual book did I sit down with a pencil and write the text. I actually still have one of these little books and it's titled, obliquely, Little Book."

"Well, all of a sudden I am obsessed with PMC. For those of you who think I am speaking about plastic plumbing fixtures, I am not. PMC stands for Precious Metal Clay. And it works just like clay clay. You can shape it into anything you want. But after you fire it, you have something made of solid 22k gold or silver. So you want to be very careful. Anyway, I plan to make dog tags. So there's something."

"I'm a huge fan of English shortbread cookies, of anything English really. I very nearly worship David Strathairn. And I'm afraid that if I ever return to Sydney, Australia, I may not return."

"I will never refuse potato chips or buttered popcorn cooked in one of those thingamajigs you crank on top of the stove."

"And my politics could be considered extreme, as I truly believe that people who molest or otherwise abuse children should be buried in pits. And I do believe our country has been served by white male presidents quite enough for the next few hundred years. I really could go on and on here, so I'd best stop."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Augusten X. Burroughs
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and western Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1965
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      No formal education beyond elementary school
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"You exposed your penis on national television, Max. Whatam I supposed to do?"

    "I didn't expose it, Howard, it just sort of peeked out."

    "It `peeked out' during the Toys for Tots segment in front oftwenty million viewers, many of whom were, not surprisingly,children. It's twenty-four hours later and we're still receivingfaxes. The phone lines were so jammed last night that no onecould get through to place orders. Plus I've got every mother inthe country threatening child-abuse lawsuits."

    Howard Toast, the executive producer of the SellevisionRetail Broadcasting Network, glared at the show host who wassitting in a black leather chair on the opposite side of his largeglass desk. Behind Max and facing Howard, a bank of televisionmonitors silently played live broadcasts of Sellevision, QVC,and the Home Shopping Network as well as broadcasts fromthe other three "B-class" networks.

    Howard leaned forward and said quietly, "Jesus fuckingChrist, Maxwell. This isn't the Playboy channel, it's Sellevision."

    Max ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous habit. "Look,I was wearing a bathrobe, it was Slumber Sunday Sundown. Wewere all wearing bathrobes."

    Howard's normally placid, waspy features contorted withfrustration. A vein on his temple pulsed. "Max, the other hostsweren't naked under their bathrobes. It's just—well, there's noexcuse—seven-year-old children and their mothers justshouldnot know that you're uncircumcised." He took four Advil fromthe bottle on his desk and washed them down with cold coffee."I mean, this could be worse than that Cuban raft-boy thing."

    Max wiped his hands on his slacks. "Look, I'm sorry, it wasan accident. I already told you, Miguel knocked my latte overonto my lap in the dressing room while he was doing mymakeup. What was I supposed to do, wear soaking wet boxers?C'mon, man, I had less than four minutes before I had to go onair, I had no choice."

    Howard straightened the stapler on his desk. "You shouldhave borrowed Miguel's underwear," he said angrily.

    "Miguel is Hispanic. He doesn't wear underwear. Besides,that's a disgusting thought, even if he did."

    "Not as disgusting as showing your dick to families all acrossAmerica while they're sitting down to eat dinner."

    Max rolled his eyes. "Jesus, Howard, you make it sound likeI did it on purpose. Like I'm some kind of exhibitionist orsomething."

    Howard leaned back in his chair, sighed, and looked up atthe ceiling. There was a silence between them, and Maxglanced over at the executive golf-putting toy in the corner ofthe office. Howard leaned forward and placed both hands onthe desk, palms up, like he had nothing left to offer. "Max, I'mvery sorry this had to happen, but if I put you back on air, I'lllose my job, the station will be boycotted—as it is, you're justlucky your penis didn't make the cover of USA Today."

    Max leaned in, blinking. "So what are you telling me? You'resaying, what, that I'm fired? Is that what you're telling me?"

    Howard nodded his head solemnly. "Yes, Max, I'm afraidwe're going to have to let you go. There's no way we can let youback on the air after this, just no way."

    Max's hands flew up. "I can't believe you're firing me overthis."

    "I'm sorry, Max, I really am. I've got a few friends over atQVC and the Home Shopping Network, I could give them acall, see if they're looking for anybody. But you might have tostart off doing the overnight. And if worse comes to worst,there's always"—he shifted his gaze toward one of the televisionmonitors that was currently displaying an electric egg scrambler—"theE-Z Shop Channel."

    "I can't fucking believe this," Max said, slumping in hischair, letting his mouth fall open.

    "Max, America's premier retail broadcasting network simplycannot be associated with a controversy of this ... magnitude."

    "Oh, well, gee, I guess I should take that as a compliment,"Max said sarcastically.

    "It's not funny, Maxwell. It's sad, is what it is. It's very sadthat you were so careless. You're a good host. But you crossed aline and, well, there are consequences."

    Max left the office, mortified as security personnel accompaniedhim while he collected the possessions in his office, andthen escorted him out of the building like a sex offender.

Peggy Jean Smythe sat in her office, reading an E-mail aviewer had sent her. Because of her high-profile time slots asa Sellevision host, she received dozens of E-mails each day. Shenormally responded with a standard forwarded thank-you letter.But if an E-mail was particularly flattering she would sometimesrespond personally with one or two lines.

    The reason viewers loved Peggy Jean was because theycould relate to her. She often spoke of her three boys, "four ifyou count my hubby." She was a "working mom" and a goodChristian woman who often hosted Jewelry of Faith programs,which featured crucifix cufflinks and Star of David money clips,both of which she presented with equal pride. She was attractive—blondhair worn in a short but full style, blue eyes, fairskin. Her roundish face seemed approachable and trustworthy.She was highly polished, yet friendly and accessible. Peggy Jeanknew all of this to be true, because she had seen the consumerresearch. In fact, she had personally attended many of the focusgroups.

    "Peggy Jean, did you hear? About Max, I mean?" Amandaasked, standing in Peggy Jean's doorway.

    Peggy Jean turned dramatically in her chair to face theyoung woman. "Of course I heard, and I think it's exactly theright thing to do."

    "You don't think it's a little too severe? I mean, just droppinghim like that?" asked the associate producer.

    Peggy Jean smiled the exact smile she often wore for viewerswhile hosting a vacuum-cleaner showcase or one of themonthly Easy Wear 18K Gold specials. She touched the lapelof her jacket. "Well, of course I'm sorry for Max, as I would befor any human being facing an adverse situation. But when Godcloses a door, Amanda, He opens a window." Peggy Jean lookedup at the suspended ceiling. "He must have other plans in storefor our Max." Then the smile was gone. "And now, Amanda, ifyou don't mind ... I have an awful lot to do."

    Amanda shrugged. "Sure, I understand. I didn't mean to disturbyou."

    Peggy Jean returned her attention to the computer screen,listening to make sure Amanda actually had left. Then, almostbiting the tip of her manicure, but stopping herself, Peggy Jeanread the alarming E-mail for the third time:

To: PG_Smythe@Sellevision.comFr: Zoe@ProviderNet.comSubject: Hi There!!

Hi Peggy Jean!

    How exciting to be able to write you! I am a loyal Sellevision fanand have ordered everything from Crock Pots to jewelry. I am sopleased with the quality of the countless items I have purchasedfrom Sellevision.

    Peggy Jean, my ears always perk up when I hear your voice onSellevision. You are my favorite host. You are so professional andfriendly, and I just love your hair!!

    Speaking of hair, I just want to tell you this, woman to woman:Peggy Jean, I have noticed many times in close-up pictures howvery hairy your earlobes are. When I first noticed, it was a bit of ashock to see a beautiful earring on your ear, surrounded by all thosehairs, which on my large-screen TV were each almost the size of aVienna sausage!!

    I wonder if you have considered using the Lady Songbird WaxingHair Removal System that I have seen on Sellevision. It seemsa painless, quick and easy way for you to be even more beautifulthan you already are.

    I bumped into (really!!) my friend Susan at the supermarket andwe got to talking, you know, just catch-up stuff. Anyway, I mentionedSellevision for some reason, I forget why. And before long,we were talking about the show and our favorite hosts and shesaid the very same thing I'm telling you now!!! Isn't that a hoot!(LOL) She said, "She's a very hairy lady." We both had a goodchuckle out of it, but PLEASE understand it wasn't a chuckle ATyou personally.

    Well, I've talked on and on, so I'll stop here. May God bless youand your family. And you have my very best wishes.

Your friend,
Zoe :)

    Peggy Jean pulled a small key from the inside pocket of herfuchsia DKNY blazer and unlocked the file cabinet beneath herdesk. The drawer contained emergency nylons, a spare pair ofsimple black pumps, a few sets of earrings that could easilycoordinate with most any outfit, and her purse. She pulled outher purse and removed her compact, peering into the smallmirror, angling her head as much to the side as she could. Shedidn't see any hairs. But then, this was a small mirror, held at adistance. It certainly wasn't a macro shot from Camera One.

    If there were, in fact, long blond hairs on her earlobes thatwere so obvious on camera as to be the subject of a fan's E-mail,Peggy Jean knew she would have to have them removed beforegoing on air at four P.M. Yet, whom could she ask? If she did, infact, have the hairs, whomever she asked would surely gossip—mentionto somebody else, "Peggy Jean has hairy earlobes"—andword could easily spread all the way to her executiveproducer, Howard. The idea of being called into the refined,forty-five-year-old's office and being verbally confronted aboutthe earlobe hairs, having to explain that the situation had beenremedied—well, it was just unthinkable.

    Peggy Jean remembered there was a large magnifying mirrorin makeup, and that it was illuminated by a ring of small,round bulbs. Surely makeup would be empty now, between thehosts' shift change. Instinctively, she reached for the tube ofLancôme moisturizer on her desk and squeezed a dime-sizeddollop onto the back of her hand. Then she quickly rubbed herhands together until they were soft and fragrant. Feminine.

    She placed her purse back into the file cabinet, locked it, andpocketed the key. Leaving her office, she turned left and continueddown the hall, passing Trish Mission along the way.

    "Peggy Jean, you look wonderful, I love that jacket," Trishsaid, gently taking the cuff of the blazer between her thumb andforefinger, admiring the softness of the fabric.

    "Well, thank you, I'm glad you like it. This is the first timeI've worn it in public. Took a little field trip to New York lastSaturday with the hubby, and picked this up at Bloomingdale's."

    Trish gave Peggy Jean a friendly nod. "Well, the color is justwonderful on you, it looks great with your eyes." And with that,Trish wished Peggy Jean good luck on that afternoon's GemFest and continued down the hall.

     Was it Peggy Jean's imagination, or had Trish taken a quicklook at her earlobes?

    Trish was one of the "emerging" hosts of Sellevision. Hergrowing popularity was propelling her from the overnight slotwhere new hosts were groomed—presenting a Fashion Clearanceor various kitchen implements—to the spot she currentlyoccupied that, although varying, included the occasional primetimeappearance, most notably her recent trip to Londonwhere she hosted a British Bonanza.

    How soon before the aging (thirty-eightish) hostess with apossible superfluous hair condition was replaced by the muchyounger, more beautiful, and fully waxed Trish Mission? Therewas a prized-racehorse quality about Trish that unsettled PeggyJean. Tall, blond, and ambitious, Trish seemed to be growingmore and more successful out of sheer entitlement.

    Makeup was, thankfully, empty. Peggy Jean walked directlyover to the small round mirror that sat on one of the dressingtables. She pressed a button on the side that caused the bulbs toflicker momentarily, then illuminate. She peered at her reflection,moving her ear as close to the mirror as possible, using thegleaming Frosted Cappuccino-painted nail of her index fingerto move the lobe into the light. There they were: tiny hairs,faint and almost unnoticeable unless one were actively lookingfor them in an illuminated magnifying mirror, as she was doingat that moment.

    Amanda, having noticed the light, paused and stood in thedoorway, watching Peggy Jean examine her ear. "Peggy Jean?"she asked, concerned. "Is something the matter with your ear?"

* * *

Heading west on I-92, Max drove mostly in the passing lane,averaging a speed of seventy miles per hour. His favoriteCD—the original cast recording of Rent—sat unplayed in hisfive-CD changer. "Stupid, stupid, fuck, fuck," was the mantrahe repeated aloud to himself as he headed toward the WoodlandsMall to see if he could obtain a certain Beanie Babynamed Peanuts for his almost-seven-year-old niece. As much asthe Woodlands Mall was the exact last place Max wanted to be(Jake's Joint, a bar, being the first), he simply had no choice. Hisniece's birthday was the day after tomorrow and he had beenunsuccessful locating the elusive plush toy on the Internet.Now he was forced to shop the old-fashioned way: in person.

    Don, the Good Morning Show host and father of a fourteen-year-oldgirl, had told Max that the Toys R Us at the WoodlandsMall had a very extensive Beanie Baby selection. "That,"he had said to Max, "would be your best bet—and I'm sayingthis as the father of a girl who wouldn't speak to me for a fullweek after I gave her Snort the Bull with that little red tag cutoff." After wishing Max good luck in his search, Don hadwarned "Oh, and whatever you do—don't cut that stupid littletag off. It's all about the tag."

    WOODLANDS MALL, NEXT EXIT, read the sign. "To think,unemployed ... me?" Max said to the windshield. As he crossedover into the far-right lane, he resisted the temptation to aimthe steering wheel into the cement guardrail, causing his top-heavyFord Explorer to careen over the embankment, explodeinto flames, and kill him instantly. Instead, he decelerated downthe exit ramp and wondered, What if I'm reduced to doing trafficreports? On radio?

    At four in the afternoon on a Wednesday, the Toys R Us wasthankfully empty. Cold, electronic renditions of children'ssongs played over the store's speakers: "The Itsy Bitsy Spider,""Old McDonald Had a Farm," even, oddly, "Kumbayah."Every few minutes, the Muzak was replaced with a loud chorusof children singing the haunting Toys R Us advertising jingle,"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid ..." The store, asvast as a warehouse, was piled to the ceilings with urinatingdolls, bikes, puzzles, Lego sets, action figures, colorful balls,teddy bears implanted with microchips that enabled them toshake hands, Just Like Mommy cell phones, board games, plasticmachine guns, two-pound bags of M&Ms, and inflatablepool creatures. Max stalked the aisles, looking for the BeanieBabies, never more thankful for his homosexuality and thechild-free life that went along with it.

    At the rear of the store, Max saw a huge display of BeanieBabies. Hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe millions of BeanieBabies to chose from. And all Max had to go on was a name:Peanut. No description, nothing. To locate Peanut, Max wouldhave to examine the name on every single little red tag.

    Unless he asked the little girl who was standing at theBeanie Baby display along with her mother. Who better to askthan a child?

    "Excuse me," Max said, approaching the little girl and hermother. The little girl spun around to look at the stranger talkingto her. "I bet you can help me. I'm looking for a particularBeanie Baby named—"

    The little girl's scream could be heard throughout the store,possibly the state. It was the sound of raw terror, as if Max werea ragged, scotch-stained Barney holding a machete. "It's him,Mommy, it's him, it's the pee-pee man from last night, make himgo away, make him go away," she cried, clinging to her motherand burying her face in the fabric of her mother's skirt.

    "It's okay, sweetie, it's okay," the mother reassured. Then toMax, "I'm terribly sorry, she's not herself today—Madelinesaw"—she whispered—"a man's penis on the television lastnight and it really upset her."

    Max stood dumbfounded, the shrillness of the little girl's crystabbing his eardrums.

    The little girl continued to sob into her mother's skirt. "It'shim, Mommy, it's him." The mother examined Max moreclosely and a glint of recognition entered her eyes. She pointedat Max. "Oh my God, that really was you! You're Max Andrewsfrom Sellevision! That was your penis!"

    A store detective appeared before the three of them. "Issomething the matter here?" he asked. "I'm in charge of security."

    The little girl turned to the uniformed authority figure, andasked in awe, "Are you a policeman?"

    The detective looked kindly at the girl, "No, honey. Well,sort of, I guess. I'm the police officer of the store, I suppose youcould say."

    The little girl pointed at Max, then burst into tears again."He's a bad man, make him go away, I saw his thingie, heshowed me his thingie."

    The detective immediately turned to Max and glared.

    The mother tried to calm her little girl by bending downand stroking her head, repeating, "It's okay, sweetie, there'snothing to be afraid of, it's okay."

    The detective gripped Max's elbow firmly. "You are in bigtrouble, mister."

"Hi, and welcome to Sellevision. I'm your host, Peggy JeanSmythe, and you're watching Gem Fest." A small listeningdevice, discreetly tucked into her left ear and hidden by herhair, allowed Peggy Jean's producer to communicate to herfrom Control Room 2 on the other side of the building. On thefloor in front of Peggy Jean were two large color monitors. Onewas a live-feed, displaying the exact scene that the rest of Americawas watching. The other monitor displayed the next scene,be it a long shot of the set, a close-up of the model who sat in achair off to the side, Peggy Jean herself, or simply a prerecorded"beauty shot" of the object she was presenting. At alltimes, there was a colored box on the left-hand side of thescreen that contained the name of the item, the item number,and the price, along with the Sellevision telephone number.The color of the box varied and could be coordinated with thetheme of the show. It could be yellow for the Good MorningShow, pink for a Hosiery Showcase, or blue for a Gem Fest.During the JFK Jr. Memorial Collection, the box was black.The Sellevision logo was always on the lower right-hand side ofthe screen, and never left.

    At that moment, Peggy Jean was looking at the live-feedmonitor, a medium shot of herself sitting behind a glossy, tan-and-blackwooden table. Behind her was what appeared to bethe evening skyline of an anonymous city. The windows of the"buildings" were illuminated and there was even a small, roundmoon in the sky, along with a smattering of stars. Very urbanand upscale. The naked Barbie doll a key-grip had placed in oneof the windows went entirely unnoticed by the viewing public.

    All the Sellevision sets were spectacular—beautifully designedand of the highest quality. The kitchen set was like acharming farmhouse kitchen, with a delightful view of treesthat could be seen through the window above the sink. Thetrees looked extraordinarily real, especially in the winter whenthe branches were covered with artificial snow by prop stylists.There was a bedroom set complete with dormer windows andwainscoting. And the living-room set had a working stonefireplace as well as an overstuffed sofa, comfortable chairs,and accent tables—everything a tasteful, upper-middle-classliving room might include, even a bookcase filled with color-coordinatedantique books. Sellevision was far superior to theother home-shopping networks and Peggy Jean felt proud tobe a part of it.

    "If you love amethyst, or maybe your birthday is in February,amethyst being the February birthstone, or you just lovethe comfort of lever-back earrings and the color purple and youare a woman who appreciates a real stone presence, my first itemjust might be for you."

    The producers in the control room cut to a prerecordedbeauty shot of the trillion-cut amethyst lever-back earrings.

    Then they cut back to Peggy Jean who was smiling andholding a wooden ruler, the earrings displayed on a black velvetstand before her. "This is item number J-0415 and they are ourtrillion-cut amethyst lever-back earrings, priced at a veryaffordable forty-nine ninety-five. I just want to give you ameasurement here," Peggy Jean said while she continued tosmile broadly, placing the ruler against one of the gemstoneearrings.

    Cut to a macro shot, Camera One. On the monitor, PeggyJean's fingers were each larger than a loaf of Wonder Bread asshe positioned the ruler, displaying for the viewers at homethat, "This is gonna measure about, well, a little more thaneight-sixteenths of an inch across, and ..." She measured thevertical. "... about one inch from top to bottom." Her manicurewas absolutely flawless.

    In her ear, Peggy Jean heard her producer saying, "Peggy,these sold out the last time they were presented which wason ... lemme see here, okay, back in October."

    Cut to medium shot of Peggy Jean. "Now, I just want to letyou know, these earrings did sell out the last time they werepresented, and that was way back in October. So it's taken us agood seven months to get them back in stock." Peggy Jeanlooked deep into the camera. "Keep in mind, the reason for thisis because people actually have to go out and find the amethystin nature, so that's something to consider." Gently tapping thestone with the tip of her nail, she informed the viewers, "Theseare absolutely beautiful earrings and they have a total gemweight of just over three carats, so that's about one and a halfcarats per ear. And that's a lot of stone."

    "Peggy, the rings are already moving, this could be a sellout,so push hard."

    "Let me just tell you, these earrings are extremely populartonight. We could become very limited, so if you want theseearrings, I'm just warning you not to wait." A graphic appeared,counting the number of orders received. Quickly, it movedfrom 257 to over 500. The Teleprompter in front of Peggy Jeandisplayed: PHONE CALL. Marilyn ... New Mexico ... Purchased.


Excerpted from sellevision by AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS. Copyright © 2000 by Augusten Burroughs. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 74 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 4, 2010

    Great Book

    I absolutely loved this book! I was hesitant to purchase after reading some not-so-great reviews, but I had read/enjoyed three of Burroughs' books so I went for it. So glad I did! The storyline is hilarious and is full of twists that made my jaw drop. I also appreciated Burroughs giving us a conclusion in the end so we know where the characters are heading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2008

    A Firecracker!

    At first, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about this book... to me, the plot had a slower start. However, once it got going, I had a difficult time putting the book down!! The plot line, focused around a television shopping network, is hilarious. The characters are graphic and real, with sharp twists and turns. Although I didn't find this work as graphic or poignant as Running with Scissors, I definitely felt like this book left something of a lasting impression. If anything, it's a short, witty, and vivid read. I agree, it's not for the 'faint at heart', but if you're open-minded and willing to laugh out loud, you'll like this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2012

    OMG, this book is just funny, I could not stop laughing. I've e

    OMG, this book is just funny, I could not stop laughing. I've enjoyed all this authors previous works and was on the fence about purchasing this one but I'm so glad I did you want a humorus book this is a must read for you then.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Author

    I enjoyed all his books. The only one I was up-in-the air about was Sellervision. Wasn't as good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2000


    I picked up this Sellevision because of a review I read somewhere and I was expecting a very funny story. Well, I just did not appreciate this book one bit. To make fun of Christian people and violence in schools and all the sex was not to my taste at all. I did think that the book had some funny moments. But I didn't care for some of the language.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    I laughed my head off.
    I am not a person who usually listens too or watches comdies but this was outrageously funny.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    An ace in the hole

    Right smack on with the sleazoid world of TV and shopping, this book is fatastic freak out good man. I'm mean, like totally freak out good. I can't believe this dude wrote such a great book man! I mean, this is so awesome and stuff! Funny and inspiring.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2008


    This is one of the funniest fiction books I have read. The premise of the story is ingenious. It is evident from all his work that Burroughs is a superb writer. Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    Okay. You're probably not reading this if you've been living under a rock and don't know that Burrough's books can be graphic and disturbing. Funny, also. That said, since you're here, I highly recommend it. SELLEVISION is NOT as graphic as RUNNING, but very funny. With glimpses into the celebrity lifestyle I was reminded at time of the works of Palahniuk. As Bret Easton Ellis said, 'Savvy, very entertaining.' And he was right. With a little of everything, this is certainly not going to be for the average Joe. I enjoyed it for what it is. The characters of Peggy Jean Smythe and Trish Mission are hilarious (and sad). 'nuf said.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    Burroughs is a wonderful and creative writer. I read his memoirs first and decided to try his fiction writing as well. I loved this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007

    A true 'hooker'

    This book is amazing...I read it in a matter of days and I just couldn't put it down...If you've read any of Burroughs' memoirs, you can recognize some of the events that take place. It seems as though each character represents a piece of himself, or a particular event that's happened in his (real) life. One of the many things I love about 'Sellevision' is that it keeps you guessing, and even when (you think) you know what will happen next, you'll find that you were wrong. This is a truelly gripping text. It'll get you hooked make you ask for more. In addition, it is very realistic for a work of fiction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2006

    Quick and funny read

    I read this book in a few hours on a lazy Sunday and found myself cracking up at Burroughs' vivid comparisons in this novel. I appreciated this book for the quick wit and refreshing new plot.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2006

    if you or anybody you know have ever watched qvc or hsn... will find this book hilarious. I read the whole thing in 3 hours and I would tell anybody that has a few hours to kill and wants something that is just plain mean (in a good way) to buy this... you wont be dissapointed :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2006

    Not so wonderful..

    Sure, the book has some funny things in it, and getting a glimpse of the whole celebrity lifestyle was interesting, but I was left disappointed. It was more of a soap opera than a literary work. You don't really learn much from the book, except that the entertainment business eats you alive, and it seemed like sex (the description I mean) was only put in the book to grab the reader's attention, or to just 'spice things up a bit'...however it just gets the reader uncomfortable (well I guess if you've read it you know what I mean). So basically if you're looking for a book to simply entertain you even the least bit, I suppose this ought to do that, but if you look for more than just that in a book, don't waste your time with this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2006


    I read Sellevision in one day and i could not put it down, i was hooked! This is truly one of Augusten Burroughs' best work!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2005

    Falls flat

    I got this book based on all these glowing reviews from Barnes and Nobles online, and I was sadly disappointed. I still gave this three stars as I did find it entertaining. However, the storyline is cute, nothing more than cute though. It pokes fun of the self righteous and religious types quite nicely; corporate greed, adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse, vanity and all other such morally bankrupt things are also illustrated (not subtly I might add). Things I like to read about nonetheless. However I found that it was very much like a soap opera - lots of buildup - and no payoff. This is a story that could easily go on and on and on and on etc. Some characters were more developed than others, which led you to enjoy their snippets more. But some characters were flat - like Mr. Smythe who plays the whipped father/husband lusting for the neighbor girl. I liked that the first time I saw it in `American Beauty.¿ Thankfully, other characters were more original. Overall, in the middle of the book I wanted more ¿ by the end, I had enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    A new Burroughs fan

    This book grabs your attention in the first sentence. Burroughs pulls you into the bizarre world of these television 'stars' and keeps you there till the end. I will definately be purchasing more of his works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2004


    He's done it again! This book had me rolling on the floor! Good job and highly recommended!

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