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Gossip : the untrivial pursuit
Joseph Epstein
Adult Nonfiction BJ1535.G6 E67 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Both educational and dangerous, a form of news and idle speculation-the many facets and history of gossip are explored by Epstein (Snobbery). He explores the transition from private gossip ("The only thing missing from the Garden of Eden was a third person for Adam and Eve to gossip about") to "the professionalism of gossip" with the printing press and changes wrought by the Internet, which has obliterated the divide between "private and public spheres." Delectable firsthand anecdotes and portraits of "great gossips of the Western world"-Saint-Simon, Walter Winchell, Barbara Walters (who asks "the most tasteless questions of famous people... who [are] themselves tasteless enough to answer her"), and Tina Brown (who makes "debased interest, misplaced curiosity, and voyeuristic emotion seem not tacky but perfectly all right, fun, smart") add to the pleasures of this serious appraisal. Readers who share Epstein's concern about gossip's power "to invade privacy, to wreck lives" and his reluctance to wholly condemn it "because I enjoy it too much" will find him disquieting and delightful. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Pssst! I have to tell you something. Did you hear about this new book about the history of gossip? Don't misunderstand the content; it's a bit high-brow! Many of us can't resist a juicy story about another person. Epstein (former editor, American Scholar; Snobbery) begins by defining the difference between gossip and rumors with emphasis on the premise that each begins with and exists because of people. Epstein outlines a general history of gossip from Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon (d.1755), famous still as a memoirist, to the controversial newspaper columnist and broadcaster Walter Winchell, to Barbara Walters and Tina Brown. Other names dropped include Julian Assange and Matt Drudge. Epstein also explores the rise of television gossip shows like TMZ. To illustrate his main points, he ends each chapter with a "diary" entry that documents his own experiences of hearing and sharing gossip, little gems about particular situations. He includes a bibliographical note listing recommended gossipy fiction and nonfiction. VERDICT Epstein packs a lot of historical information into his book, and this makes it a good choice for academic journalism and media collections. It will also spark lively discussions in nonfiction book groups. [See Prepub Alert, 6/13/11.]-Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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