A collection of essays on our culture’s fascination with celebrities.
Klam (Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can't Live Without, 2012, etc.) has done her share of celebrity journalism in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour. In her fifth book, she chronicles her interviews with one-time or sort-of celebrities like Timothy Hutton, whose 15 minutes came when he won an Oscar in 1980 at age 20 for Ordinary People, and Griffin Dunne, who starred in An American Werewolf in London. They come across as perfectly pleasant, polite guys with little apparent interest in the subject of celebrity. The author professes a fascination with celebrities that began when she was a teenager plastering her bedroom walls with pages from Tiger Beat, but by this point, that fascination has clearly faded, and she seems to be proceeding dutifully through all the expected bases. She observes strangers taking selfies outside the restaurant where Seinfeld was filmed, speaks with Quentin Tarantino’s publicist, discusses the necessity of plastic surgery for celebrities, frets about the Kardashians and their unearned fame, and interviews former Mets player R.A. Dickey, forgetting to turn on her tape recorder, with a resulting chapter that’s more about her than him. The book is padded with dozens of recollections of celebrity sightings by Klam’s friends and acquaintances. In the book’s most pleasurable moments, the author discusses her Aunt Mattie, an unabashed reality TV show fan who enjoys sitting in her La-Z-Boy with her dog and some licorice and pretzels to watch and muse on the complicated relationships in Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood.
Entertaining but shallow. Klam is perhaps too sensible a writer to care much about the filtered world of celebrities, and her fundamental indifference to the subject, no matter how she struggles to overcome it, makes the book seem less than essential.