I’m Losing You
In his first novel, FORCE MAJEURE (1991), Bruce Wagner depicts Los Angeles as hell on earth from the point of view of a young, unsuccessful screenwriter on his way to mental breakdown. I’M LOSING YOU escapes any tinge of sentimentality by avoiding a protagonist with whom the reader might identify. This time, Wagner alternates between the stories of twenty or so agents, writers, producers, physicians, pornographers, and would-be Hollywood players, all desperate or despicable or both.
These characters interact with real-life celebrities such as Alec Baldwin, Laura Dern, Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and Harry Dean Stanton to create a vivid vision of a show business community considerably nastier than the one depicted in Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER (1992). Wagner’s world consists of mental instability, murder, suicide, child molestation, drug abuse, homelessness, AIDS, insurance scams, kidnapping, kinky sex, and various other forms of humiliation and one-upmanship.
Wagner, best know for writing the television miniseries WILD PALMS (1993), is a deeply moral writer without being didactic. He remonstrates against his characters’ excesses but suggests that such behavior is simply standard for the time. More amused than outraged, Wagner does, however, imply that traditional spiritual values, particularly those found in Judaism, may offer a respite from this cesspool. With a hallucinatory vision of Los Angeles recalling that of James Ellroy, the satirical bite of Martin Amis, and the moral concerns of Saul Bellow, Wagner is a distinctive commentator on his rotten times.
Sources for Further Study
The Advocate. July 23, 1996, p. 55.
Booklist. XCII, July, 1996, p. 1805.
Chicago Tribune. September 5, 1996, V, p. 3.
Entertainment Weekly. July 26, 1996, p. 49.
Library Journal. CXXI, June 15, 1996, p. 94.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. August 4, 1996, p. 6.
The New York Times. July 30, 1996, p. C15.
The New York Times Book Review. CI, August 18, 1996, p. 11.
The New Yorker. LXXII, August 5, 1996, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly. CCXLIII, May 6, 1996, p. 67.
San Francisco Chronicle. August 14, 1996, p. E5.
Time. CXLVIII, October 7, 1996, p. 96.
Variety. CCCLXIV, September 16, 1996, p. 8.
The Washington Post Book World. XXVI, December 1, 1996, p. 6.