I always bring free books to Slog Happy for Slog commenters to enjoy, and I request that in return you send a book report back to let us know what you thought. Most of you ignore that request. (Not that I'm bitter or anything.) But Enigma has sent along a review of a Slog Happy book she recently finished. And that reason, among others, is why Enigma is one of my favorite commenters. Here's what she had to say:
I started Fame: What the Classics Tell Us About Our Cult of Celebrity at the January Reading Party at the Sorrento. I finished it about a week ago. I was really excited to read this because I'd love an excuse to justify my interest in the trainwrecks of our society with a heavy dose of academia. This book does provide that, and gives lots of examples of how the people of the past worshiping gods corresponds to our obsession with Brittany, reality stars, and the sordid lives of politicians.
The only critique I have of Fame is that it rambles. It felt like Payne wanted to fit a lot more into this book, realized he wasn't writing an academic dissertation, and so he just cut out a bunch of stuff. It's also heavy on the British pop culture scene. He gives a warning in the introduction about the problems of comparing the American and British culture's responses to celebrity, but he goes on to make that comparison regularly throughout the book anyway.
Fame highlights interesting parallels between people like Heath Ledger and Byron. I'd recommend this book as a nice book to take to a cabin. It's intellectual but not stuffy, and offers some nice topics of discussion to start around the campfire at night. Just don't go in expecting to come out with a new view of our celebrity culture. His conclusion is the same one you've heard a million times before: We create celebrities to tear them down, and every generation must have its sacrifices.
Many thanks to Enigma, and if any of you other commenters would like to review your Slog Happy book, you can send them to me here.