The Spectators

The Spectators

A Novel

Book - 2019
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A controversial talk-show host who has made his living by exposing bizarre societal secrets on live television finds his own past brought into question when the young perpetrators of a mass shooting declare themselves his devoted fans.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2019]
ISBN: 9780812995886
0812995880
Branch Call Number: FIC DUBOIS, JENNIFER
Characteristics: 336 pages ; 25 cm.

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IndyPL_ChaseM Mar 06, 2020

“The Spectators” attempts to marry a handful of themes via three decades, two narrators, and one central figure. I guess you could say this is a character study of Matthew Miller, an attorney and aspiring politician in the 70s and 80s, or Mattie M., as he’s known in the 90s in the shape of a Jerry Springer type talk show host. We learn about these two distinct eras of his life first from Semi, who was Matthew’s secret lover in the time just before and during the rise of the AIDS crisis. The second point of view comes from Cel, a publicist for “The Mattie M. Show,” which is at the center of controversy after a school shooting has taken place committed by a self-proclaimed Mattie M. fan.

The author attempts to tackle several social issues such as politics and AIDS, gun violence, and the responsibility of the media. However, none of these variables ever meet in a way that informs anything significant about each other and their connections. The central figure remains neither close nor too distant in the ways the narrators inhabit his life. The story does not effectively break through the surface of its characters and its themes.

k
KlayDyer
Jul 18, 2019

Very much a mixed reaction to DuBois’s novel. Rising through the energy of the cultural and sexual chaos of the 1970s before collapsing under the weight of AIDS, violence, and the spiritual dislocation of the 1980s, the novel develops two primary narrative threads: one following Semi, a gay (dramatically so) NYC playwright, the other following Cel, a very small-town girl looking to make her way as a publicist in the bright lights-big city world of television tabloid talk shows (think Jerry Springer at its best/worst). Both threads interweave with the story of Matthew Miller, semi-closeted gay lawyer, activist, politician, and, ultimately, host of the insanely popular Mattie M Show. While DuBois is skilled at capturing the various intensities of the AIDs era (comparisons to Rent seem too easily made), she is, at times, trapped by the spiritual and psycho-emotional weight that defined much of that same time. Adding the subplot of a Columbine-like shooting (and the inevitable hand wringing that accompanies each new variation of this same old kids-with-guns-killing-kids-in-schools scenario), and the layers of sadness and heaviness accrete exponentially. The Spectator is an important book for many reasons, and it certainly deserves the accolades that it has garnered. But, to bend a lyric from Rent (one must, after all): It is increasingly hard to document real life when reality is getting more like fiction every day.

a
AliCanta
Apr 17, 2019

I picked up this ebook during finals as a means to procrastinate without feeling too shabby about it. Zero expectations. Read somewhere at some point that is had a Hemingway vibe which I kinda remember enjoying (shout out to "The Old Man and the Sea") so I thought this would be short and sweet. I was absolutely mistaken.

The way the story switches time and perspective between chapters makes it engaging, this isn't a fluff read but at the same time it's direct. You have one story at the surface about death and AIDS, the absurd way you can mimic and be misunderstood yet not really care even though there has to have been some sort of caring to want to fit in and mimic, and then before you realize it, the words on the pages are sucking you into an existential questioning of who you are. You ask yourself why there are morals but you don't feel too attacked.

Zero expectations coming in. Mind blow and introspective after. Nice distraction with waaaaaay more depth than I realized.

debwalker Apr 02, 2019

When a school shooting is linked to a controversial TV host.....

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