Literature Ellen Akins Public Life

ISBN 13: 9780060921804

Public Life

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9780060921804: Public Life

Recruited to market Governor John Anderson in his bid for the presidency and then hired as an advisor when he wins, former filmmaker Ann Matter becomes involved in scandals involving his administration.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Another fragmented, sophisticated, terribly solemn novel by Akins (Home Movie; Little Woman)--this one starring Ann Matter, a shell-shocked media consultant whose fatal flaw is her fervent belief in her own media creation. Ann was once a sweet, pretty college student with a passion for film, but she lost her innocent enthusiasm once she became pregnant and agreed under pressure from her lover, David, to have the child. After the birth, Ann hands the baby over to David and flees them both in a desperate, misguided attempt to regain her purity. Undergoing surgery to perfect her appearance, she embarks on a cool, meticulous, comforting advertising career in which the appearance of objects, and the layers of associations she can evoke from their images, count for more than the objects themselves. It's a small step from this to taking a job as media representative for old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy Democratic Texas Governor Henry Anderson during his bid for the White House. Inspired by Anderson's real basic virtue, Ann eagerly grabs onto his best human qualities, exaggerating and enhancing them into a larger-than-life, mass- market image. Her efforts are so successful that by the time Anderson takes Pennsylvania Avenue his image has superseded his political positions, and he and his creator have fallen into a lockstep so in sync that it's difficult to tell which one of them is running the country. The union also proves too threatening for a jealous press secretary and Anderson's rebellious son, who soon conspire to sully Ann's and Anderson's reputations in the press. Despite Ann's struggles, her creation begins to wobble, and her tidy world is sent reeling as both David, reading in the papers of her struggles, and Anderson, panicked at the thought of becoming merely mortal again, take abrupt, violent action.... The power and independent life of the media image are, as always, an intriguing theme--but Akins's pointillistic, humorless style merely skitters across its surface. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

After a slow, needlessly confusing beginning, Akins ( Home Movie ) manages to achieve an admirably graceful and tightly plotted novel of ideas, only to spoil it with a contrived denouement. Asked by presidential candidate Henry Anderson to direct his media campaign, former filmmaker Ann Matter teams up with Peter Daniel, a poet who sculpts Anderson's words for the voters, to create an immaculately honed public image, the perfect media abstraction of a president. When their man actually wins the election, however, that image begins to dissolve as the press uncovers information about the "real" Anderson. The narrative gains speed, cohesion and power from an increasingly complex storyline and the well-drawn protagonists; Ann and Peter are multifaceted, evolving characters who raise cerebral, resonating questions about politics, advertising, the media, the nature of identity and much more. Evocative ideas, provocative prose, telling details and forcefully charged dialogue compensate for the fact that the characters' theorizing isn't always smoothly integrated with the plot. Unfortunately, the book closes with an incredibly coincidental and entirely contrived series of ill-fitting dramatic twists more suited to a TV-movie than to this intellectually challenging, albeit seriously flawed novel.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Ellen Akins
Published by Perennial (1994)
ISBN 10: 0060921803 ISBN 13: 9780060921804
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Book Description Perennial, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060921803

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