Wasted Beauty

Wasted Beauty

by Eric Bogosian

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With his dark wit and corrosive dialogue, Eric Bogosian tells a powerful and emotionally wrenching tale of two lovers who form a mesmerizing and destructive bond while trying to evade the looming failure of their respective lives.
Reba runs away from her shabby and desolate rural community for the lure of New York City. Her tall and awkward frame lands her


With his dark wit and corrosive dialogue, Eric Bogosian tells a powerful and emotionally wrenching tale of two lovers who form a mesmerizing and destructive bond while trying to evade the looming failure of their respective lives.
Reba runs away from her shabby and desolate rural community for the lure of New York City. Her tall and awkward frame lands her work modeling, but she is not prepared for the glamorous, drug-fueled life of a celebrated mannequin. After a series of painful relationships, she sees hope and an exit toward stability and sanity in the man who saves her brother's life.
This man is Rick, a successful SoHo general practitioner with a warm family and an idyllic life that has left him restless and hollow. He doesn't take Reba seriously until he finds himself so enmeshed in her beauty that he risks losing everything—his home, his children and his beloved wife.
Now this master monologist and author of the acclaimed Mall returns with a sprawling novel of urban desperation and desire that brings to mind the winding narratives of Tom Wolfe salted with the dark urges of Philip Roth. The New York Times hailed Eric Bogosian's fiction as "caustic, fast-paced....Adapting himself to fiction with...the same garrulous intensity he brings to plays and monologues, Mr. Bogosian sets in motion a suburban nightmare." And Entertainment Weekly has lauded his "merciless satirical vision (that) takes you deep into the dark heart of the American dream."
Wasted Beauty is Bogosian's enthralling journey through the high life of drugs and fashion celebrity, middle-class guilt and sexual obsession.
Copyright © 2005 by Simon & Schuster

Editorial Reviews

Susan Adams
A veteran of New York's many bohemian mondes and demimondes, Bogosian sticks to the golden write-what-you-know rule, to great effect.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Actor Bogosian (Mall) takes the "opposites attract" conceit to an extreme in a well-crafted novel that's also a vicarious walk on the wild side. Before he crashes two very different ends of the social spectrum together, though, Bogosian develops each one separately, cultivating suspense: how will these characters come together? In one corner is Reba, a 20-year-old upstate New York farm girl who, along with her nasty brother, Billy, sells apples to Manhattanites on weekends. In a breathless series of events, she becomes separated from Billy and is spotted by a fashion photographer who turns her into a supermodel. In the other corner is Rick, a middle-aged Jewish doctor living in the suburbs with his family. While he likes his life, he's also chafing under certain domestic constraints. It's up to Billy to make them collide by hurtling off the deep end after losing his sister; he ends up in the emergency room, and Rick sends him to the psych ward. The model and the physician eventually begin a torrid, May/December romance that drives the latter toward divorce and the former into addiction. It's a great guilty pleasure of a story line (brainy schlump meets gorgeous goddess), and Bogosian fills it with fresh, frank turns of phrase the frazzled doctor's eyes are "like slit-open gray prunes" even if the ending feels a little too sanitized for the gritty story that preceded it. Agent, William Morris. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Real low down with gorgeous Reba Cook, wedded to "nasty Mr. Needle," and other denizens of New York's druggy-fashionista underground. With a three-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Farm girl becomes supermodel in actor Bogosian's dark, raunchy second novel (after Mall, 2000), about sex and drugs in the big city. Reba Cook is 20 when she loses both parents to cancer, leaving her alone with older brother Billy on their failing farm in upstate New York. She gets no comfort from her brother, a hard-drinking bully ashamed of lusting after her, or from her new boss, Frank, a bank manager unhappy with her oral sex technique. One Saturday in the city, selling their apples at the market alongside Billy, she allows herself to be picked up. The guy deflowers and discards her in short order. A second guy hits on her at a McDonald's, and this time Reba lucks out. Paul is a fashion photographer who sees the potential in this leggy blonde with beautiful eyes. In a heartbeat, she has an agency contract and becomes an overnight sensation. But this isn't just Reba's story. There's also Rick, a 45-year-old doctor with a lucrative private practice, a happy family in the burbs, and a raging midlife crisis. He has a swell wife in Laura and two sweet kids, yet he yearns to run wild, though so far all he has managed is a Portnoyesque involvement with his penis (there are three masturbation scenes). He gets a shot at liberation when Billy becomes his patient. If Reba has ascended to its heights, Billy has hurtled implausibly into the city's depths, and, now a violent derelict, he's been razor-slashed by drug dealers. Late in the story, Rick and Reba meet to discuss her brother. Reba is snorting heroin and sleeping around, and reckless doctor and needy model launch themselves into a grand passion. Will it consume them? The lovers' high-wire act, in the final third, is gripping, the earlierstuff, like Reba copping drugs, merely titillating. Not surprisingly, Bogosian has a fine ear: more dialogue and fewer interior monologues might have made for a leaner, more powerful tale.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

She perches on the rim of the monstrous porcelain bathtub and slaps the crook of her Auschwitz-thin arm, trying to raise one pastel green subcutaneous thoroughfare. Stick it in, stick it in, stick it in. Find the blood. The shouts and screams of alley kids vibrate the rank fizzy air. A fat fly swoops through the brick-propped window, exits disappointed. All you have to do is hump one tiny blood vessel with this tiny but extra-sharp metal dick. Like a heron hunting fish she sticks the syringe in over and over, smearing blood all over the place, impossible to see what's what. Fucking skinny veins. Almost as fine as the needle itself. There are other places, but not sure how to do that. Under the tongue, along the belly, back of the hand, in the neck. Focus, fucking focus! Time is running out. Stomach's growling, brain's aching. Gonna shit my panties in a sec.

He pops his head in and says, "You want help with that?" snatching the soot-blackened bottlecap. "LEAVE ME ALONE! FUCKING LET ME HAVE TWO MINUTES PEACE FOR GOD'S SAKE!" The creep withdraws, slamming the door.

Beads of sweat, or are they tears, drop a million miles to the floor while an amazingly busy cockroach scuttles out from under the tub and licks unaware, of course, of how rare this stuff is, packed with molecules of private stock Issey Miyake perfume and this morning's wake-up dose of diacetylmorphine not to mention the hormones and pheromones of one of the most beautiful girls in the world. And does the bug give a shit? No. Probably all tastes the same.

The most beautiful girl in the world mashes the bad cockroach under her Manolo and spies the promised land. A vein running just south of her sculpted ankle. Could do that. She grabs her own calf, leaning way forward, and slides in the stainless, careful not to go too far and puncture the opposing vein wall. Yeah, that works, that works.

Set the trigger, cock it, the little red bomb of blood blooms up into the clear barrelful of puro. Satisfied with all the intravenous arrangements, she thumbs the plunger, gives the universe a hard shove and it all comes down like a tsunami crushing a beach. In three seconds the heroin runs from ankle to heart and back out to the reticular formation, the hypothalamus, the thalamus, the cerebral hemispheres, showering the cerebral cortex with an ecstatic saturation of opiates and she thinks, OK, gotta get organized. The relief of knowing the dope will arrive is almost as big a high as the dope itself. Then bam, the tidal wave hits and she's rolling in the drug surf, upside down, all around, lost in the biggest washing machine of ecstasy and perfection known. No thought. No nothin'. She forgets to sit up straight and tilts toward the dingy, dust ball, hair ball, cockroach carcassed, shit floor. Now if everyone will please look out the right side of the cockpit you'll see the underside of the toilet passing by. Notice how junkie urine has oozed down through the bowl-sweat like streaks of yellow paint, dripping down and then drying away, forming a small brown puddle beneath the sweating stinking pissoir. Please fasten your seatbelts, we'll be landing soon.

She attains Superwoman eyes and Superwoman knowledge for exactly five seconds. Almost has the foresight to pull the spike out of her ankle before crossing the tipping point and falling onto her photogenically flawless face, though she does avoid the disgusting floor by cracking her most perfect skull on the porcelain with an act of great acrobatic skill, spinning and landing on her back.

She lifts her head and pukes onto her brand-new A/X tank top. She feels really great. Before she passes out, she thinks, I wanna go home.

Meet the Author

Eric Bogosian is the author of Mall, the plays Talk Radio, subUrbia and Griller, and the Obie Award-winning solo performances Drinking in America, Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead and Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll. He is the recipient of the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear Award, a Drama Desk Award, and two NEA fellowships. An actor who has appeared in more than a dozen feature films and television shows, Bogosian lives in New York City.

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