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Massive Swelling [Paperback]

Cintra Wilson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 5 2001
Whether you lust after it, loathe it, or feign apathy toward it, fame is in your face. Cintra Wilson gets to the heart of our humiliating fascination with celebrity and all its preposterous trappings in these hilarious, whip-smart, and subversive essays. Often radical and always a scream, Wilson takes on every sacred cow, toppling icons as diverse as Barbra Streisand, Ike Turner, Michael Jackson, and-for obvious reasons-Bruce Willis. She exposes events like the Oscars and even athletic jamborees as having grown a "tumescent aura of Otherness." Wilson's scathing and irresistible dissections of Las Vegas as "the Death Star of Entertainment," and Los Angeles as "a giant peach of a dream crawling with centipedes" pulse with her enlightened rejection of all things false and vain and egotistical. Written with her trademark zeal and intelligence, A Massive Swelling is the antidote for the fame virus that infects us all.

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From Booklist

Warning: do not read this book at a wake, on a precipice, or with a full bladder. Unless you're a humorless fan of Cher, Michael Jackson, Barbra Striesand, or Mick Jagger, Wilson's turbo, heat-seeking essays about fame, the bane of our commodified culture, will induce bent-double, breathless laughter. A columnist for Salon and the San Francisco Examiner, Wilson, a latter-day Dorothy Parker without the self-hate, writes about the psychoses the lust for fame induces in the stars, their fans, and countless pathetic wanna-bes. In writing about boy bands, like the New Kids on the Block, Wilson reports on the disturbing fan mail they receive from women old enough to be their mothers. Excessive cosmetic surgery in pursuit of perfect bodies elicits blisteringly hilarious commentary on the likes of Courtney Love and Celine Dion. Smart, supercharged, ethical, and talented, Wilson also takes on the ersatz worlds of the Oscars and Las Vegas, and the malignancy of racism and sexism in Hollywood. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Cintra is an original. She is talented, funny, and altogether exceptional." -- Francis Ford Coppola

"I like to laugh and I like to think and Cintra makes me do both out loud and in public. She tells the truth funny. She's brilliant, she's funny, and she's really good-looking in that sexy picture in the back of the book that you get for no extra charge. She's better than the best, but you can't afford her, so just buy her book. It's the only thing about her that's cheap." -- Penn Jillette, Penn & Teller

"If the subjects of Cintra Wilson's loathing continue to appear in public after this book is published, it must be because they can't read." -- Greil Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Nature determines what is poisonous to the soul and body, and sometimes it is easy to avoid that which is baneful and unclean: e.g., we naturally have no desire to eat fetid corpses or drink motor oil. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark E. Smith and the Punky Bunch May 20 2004
Why do I dig this book? It's because the names "Joey McIntyre" of the New Kids and "Mark E. Smith" of The Fall were but pages apart. I could only imagine the hapless aging New Kid (McIntyre) cowering in terror at the sight of a wizened Mancunian bloke (Smith) shambling towards him and murmuring some bollocks about co-optation by the media.
Seriously, Mark E. Smith as described by Ms. Wilson, is a sorry portrait. It reminded me of the day I fell out of love with a local hero celebrity of mine: Mark Ashwill of the Spitters. Ashwill and his band were so engergetic in their prime that I always went to a show just to be in their "halo." I expected every show to be an epiphanous "life-changing" experience. The last time I saw their flailing frames on stage, it was just that: life-changing. It just wasn't the epiphany I expected.
This last show I saw was at the Continental, on 3rd Av. and St. Mark's in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The other three original Spitters - besides Mark - were absent. Whether they were dismissed or they departed on their own, I'll never know. In thier place were a bassist and a drummer: Both young, skinny and nervous. They visibly reared away as Ashwill careened about: replicating his old physical shtick for the umpteenth time. They couldn't complete a single song. Ashwill would bark and rant, hurl his mic stand at the crowd (Punk RAWK, dude... ungh.) He slammed into the drum kit and bellowed, "EVERYTHING'S BREAKING! EVERYTHING'S BREAKING!" He continued howling that phrase even after he tore the XLR cable out of the mic. Towards the end, he met the crowds stare with a hang-dog expression that asked: This isn't even fun for you, is it?
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth About Celebrity Nov. 14 2003
In the world of super-hype and fame worship, in a time when all you have to do to prove yourself 'worthy' is to become famous sounds a voice of reason. That voice belongs to Cintra Wilson. Her book is a biting, honest, hilarious and overall amazing look at what the culture of fame has done to us as a society. From the seemingly innocent to the downright scary, all aspects of the need for fame and fortune is brought to light.
Cintra has no fear of stepping on toes or calling things what they really are. This is a great book for anyone who wants to see beyond the marketing and understand what the world of Hollywood is really all about.
"Celebrity is a virulent killer of fundamental human values, and unless Southern California goes up in a shiny moshroom cloud on Judgement Day, the only way to control it is to quit believing in it...
We must stop believing that famous people are better and more beautiful and interesting than other people. They're not. They're just like other human beings, only advertised, massively into major leading brands, like dog food or shaving cream."
-Cintra Wilson
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2.0 out of 5 stars Massively Unsatisfying April 25 2003
By A Customer
Cintra Wilson is a hilarious writer. There's no doubt about it. She takes on her topic with scathing snark. She is apoplectic about the celebrity culture that has consumed America, but she does too much finger pointing (her middle one) and not enough analysis of the reasons why save impugning the "maladjusted, bacon-eating" rural and suburban population that isn't as erudite as her and her cocktail set, which she loathes as well. Also missing is an alternative aside from Stop, and Don't watch, don't look anymore, Stop feeding the monster with your infatuation. And too often she comes off as an ersatz Camille Paglia and as someone incapable of dealing with what David Foster Wallace calls "the hazards of freedom". For someone who proclaims to be ultra-liberal and Green-blooded Ms. Wilson is one of the most intolerant people I've ever read, yet I did laugh with her, and after reflecting what I read I laugh at her and her misery. But, hey, she has to be applauded for voicing her opinion that Napalm be dropped on Los Angeles. I second that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Merry Mocking Mencken-Moderne - Marvellous! Feb. 14 2003
First reading H.L. Mencken - Prejudices, First Series - way back in grad school, I felt as though I were under rhetorical and ideational assault. Over and over again, ambushed by Mencken's relentless pushing prodding needling stratospheric chthonic ribald mocking joyously playful yet deadly serious language, finding it so jaw-droppingly, startlingly funny that I'd be howling out loud at 2 a.m., waking wife, kids, to whom I'd try to read his inimitable raillery against mountebanks, poltroons, Comstockery, "uplift," and the full panoply of the sins and sinners of his age. Mencken's rhetorical excessiveness, his superabundance of sinuous, surprising, jazz-like prose (he wouldn't have liked that simile) thrilled me, made me want more, made me a devotee for life. And after pondering long and hard, the only writer I can today imagine comparing to Mencken is Cintra Wilson - but as a Mencken on a delirious cocktail of speed, acid, extra bile for a less genteel audience, and pther mystery elixirs that may be swirling through the stream of her imagination. But, my God, this is simply startling, uproarious, deadly accurate journalism.
It begins with a brilliance of eye. Wilson sees segments of the spectrum that the rest of us are blind to - great journalism begins in great observation. I would quote, extensively, but I don't want to diminish the pleasures of discovery for any who might pick up this book. Let me simply say that Wilson has a long skewer and, impaled like stacked shishkabob, are a long list of deserving (and deservingly easy) victims, icluding Cher, Bruce Willis, Ike Turner, the dancing-singing-boy groups, and Keanu Reeves; surprising appearances by Jack Nicholson, Jack Palance, and others, and, perhaps most unforgettably (and a most timely inclusion), Michael Jackson and "the nose.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Truthful, Wonderful, & Sad.
It is embarassing how seriously Americans take the culture of celebrity and the media. One of the many reasons we are the world laughing stock. Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Two thumbs up.
Surprisingly witty and hilarious. A must read.
Published on Aug. 26 2003 by Theresa
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I want to think that this book had more impact when it was published a whole 3 years ago. I found the experience of reading it to be painful after the first few pages of the... Read more
Published on July 28 2003 by A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Waxing Off
This book inspires me to wax poetic like Eminem rapping while he gets "the boys" waxed!! I mean it, this is the full-theatrical release of something ol' Em might have spent... Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by barbarena
5.0 out of 5 stars Funniest book I've ever read
This book keep me laughing from start to finish. I found Ms. Wilson's writing style to be easy to read and visual.
Wish that she would write another book.
Published on June 11 2003 by Sandra
3.0 out of 5 stars All sorts of dropplings.
I give the book three out of five stars because of the easy reading, not for the quality of the material. Read more
Published on March 19 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars A Massive Mediocrity
Cindra Wilson hates Celine Dion and the New Kids on the Block. Gee, she sure has carved out a unique niche. Read more
Published on March 16 2003 by Justin Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts brilliantly, fades to black
Wilson's razor-sharp commentary cuts apart why-celebs such as Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, examining how they became famous at the expense of our culture. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2002 by J. Gifford
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulosity, thy name is cintra wilson.
i missed out on this book when it was first released, and the fact that i stumbled upon it at all seems to have been the result of some sort of divine providence. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2002 by "beppo38"
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