Sager plays Virgil in the modern American Inferno.
William Carlos Williams wrote “the pure products of America go crazy;” journalist Sager (Esquire, Rolling Stone, GQ) collects an astonishing range of profiles that support the poet’s assertion. Quite literally, in some cases: The opening piece on comedienne Roseanne focuses on her oft-proclaimed personality disorder, to alternately amusing and chilling effect. Sager also vividly limns the inner lives (in a manner strongly reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s landmark works of “The New Journalism”) of neighbors trapped in a horrific California wildfire; professional beautiful woman Brooke Burke; a man trapped for days in a wrecked van, plumbing the depths of the survival instinct; young and nihilistic Newark teens and pre-teens who have made a sport of stealing cars to wreck them at high speeds (the “Donut Boys” of the title); an aristocratic Renaissance man who finds his skills best suited to butlering; and a host of other American men named Sager, tracked down on a cross-country drive. A few of the articles, such as the heartbreakingly empathic portrait of an accomplished and vital 92-year-old man living out his last days in a bland retirement community, make indelible impressions. The lighter fare, including mordant looks at the world of professional volleyball players and sagging swingers adrift in Florida, is funny and engaging. A profile of erstwhile rapper and current family-film star Ice Cube bristles with the excitement of the then-burgeoning hip-hop community, and is a surprising reminder of what a fierce and focused talent Cube once was—though Sager’s earnest explanations of the basic tenets of rap culture are, at this late date, unintentionally funny.
Compelling and stylish magazine journalism, rich in novelistic detail. A reminder of what can make sifting through all of those glossy advertisements and subscription cards worthwhile.