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Authors: Bruce Wagner

I’m Losing You

PLUME BOOKS

I'M LOSING YOU

BRUCE WAGNER
is the author of
Dead Stars, Memorial, The Chrysanthemum Palace
(a PEN Faulkner fiction award finalist),
Still Holding, I'll Let You Go
, and
Force Majeure
. He lives in Los Angeles.

Praise for
I'm Losing You

“Ruthlessly hip and very funny.”

—
Wired

“Edgy, sublime.”

—
New York Newsday

“Wagner's verbal animation rarely flags…. His prose writhes and coruscates.”

—John Updike,
The New Yorker

“The author's images, tones and language give
I'm Losing You a
hard beauty that glints like a black crystal.”

—
Time

“Wagner's latest novel makes all other Hollywood satires Capraesque in their innocence.”

—
Will
Self

“One of the year's most notorious books…a living satire of a dying Hollywood…a must read.”

—
Entertainment Weekly

“A black farce played with brute force…. Wagner improves upon the Hollywood-equals-hell novel…with an intricately woven jump-cut montage of deeply twisted parents, children, doctors, filmmakers, agents, writers, and actors who lay waste to each other's lives and score movie deals from the carnage.”

—
Details

“Mr. Wagner…treats us to many glorious phrases and whole passages that have the self-propelled rhythm of great prose.”

—Adam Begley,
New York Observer

“Electrifying…a viciously funny, kaleidoscopically plotted Hollywood satire. Will invite comparisons to Robert Altman, Tom Wolfe, or any other modern Swift or Pope you can think of.”

—
Boston Book Review

“Funny, mordant, erudite, affecting, perverse, hyperverbal…. Wagner is huge.”

—
Washington Times

“A literary novel of Hollywood—a rare event, to be sure. I can't think of any novel in recent memory that has provoked such a rush of uneasy accolades…. So dense as to be almost tactile.”

—
Variety

“Mordantly funny and morbidly real,
I'm Losing You
is a giant, decadent hot-tub party….A great, gossipy treat.”

—
Philadelphia Inquirer

“A Hollywood of neurotic self-destructive sex and technology-obsessed locals—and those are the
nicer
people. Epic.”

—
Women's Wear Daily

“A funnier and even more brutal Hollywood send-up than his previous novel,
Force Majeure
…brilliant.”

—
New York Post

“All of [the characters] are finely, beautifully drawn…. Wagner manages to breathe so much life into them that even their most despicable acts are understandable.”

—
The Advocate

“Makes the nonfictional
You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again
look like a Hollywood valentine.”

—
Glamour

“A deliciously guilty pleasure…perfect beach reading for the millennium.”

—
Newsday

“The most distinctive Jewish novel since
Portnoy's Complaint.

—
Jewish Journal

“A meditation on moral corruption and loss which is at turns hilarious, tragic, and at times as caustic as a shot of kerosene.”

—
Detour

“Compared to this novel, the Hollywood disenchantments of Nathanael West and F. Scott Fitzgerald seem gently nostalgic.”

—
Books of the Southwest

“An ambitious and complex literary novel…one of the best serious books published this year.”

—
Sun-Sentinel

“A dazzling prose stylist.”

—
Hartford Courant

I'M LOSING YOU

B
  R  U  C  E
    W
  A  G  N  E  R

A PLUME BOOK

PLUME

Published by the Penguin Group

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•
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is an authorized reprint of a hardcover edition published by Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc. For information address Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022.

First Plume Printing, August 2012

10    9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1

Copyright © Bruce Wagner, 1996

All rights reserved

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material: H
OUGHTON
M
IFFLIN
C
OMPANY
: Excerpt from “The Breast” from
Love Poems
by Anne Sexton. Copyright © 1967, 1968, 1969 by Anne Sexton. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. J
OBETE
M
USIC
C
O.
, I
NC.
: Excerpt from “Didn't We” by Jimmy Webb. Copyright © 1967 by Jobete Music Co., Inc. Reprinted by permission of Jobete Music Co., Inc.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

CIP data is available.

ISBN: 978-1-101-59488-9

Printed in the United States of America

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INC., 375 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014.

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

A
UTHOR'S
N
OTE

I'm Losing You
is a work of fiction. The characters, conversations, and events in the novel are the products of my imagination, and no resemblance to the actual conduct of real-life persons, or to actual events, is intended. Although, for the sake of verisimilitude, certain public figures do make incidental appearances or are briefly referred to in the novel, I have included them here without their knowledge or cooperation; their interactions with the characters I have invented are wholly my creation and not intended to be understood as descriptions of real events or to reflect negatively upon any of these public figures; nor to suggest that they ever sought or participated in any psychiatric or psychological treatment.

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera

—Salvatore Quasimodo

(Each alone on the heart of the earth,
impaled upon a ray of sun:
and suddenly it's evening.)

C
ONTENTS

B
OOK
1: Impala

B
OOK
2: Women in Film

B
OOK
3: A Guide to the Classics

B
OOK
4: The Grande Complication

B
OOK
1

IMPALA

 

It seemed only yesterday that Serena Ribkin was a vibrant, no-regrets member of the Lie—that seventy was “young”—but now she lay bedridden in her frazzled palace with a bad case of colon cancer. Ten months ago, her party, so to speak, had been crashed by a pain-freak hooligan; she duly protested, thinking the intruder could be sassed or paid off, cajoled to leave. Unflappably, she submitted herself to resection and the roughing-up of a good chemo. But when they indecorously cut away thirty-six inches of bowel (not to would be suicide, Donny said), everything changed: the skinhead sodomized her in front of the guests and she had no choice but to give him run of the house. She knew all would be smashed now, every secret-recessed thing. At least, while revelers were slaughtered below, the invader allowed her lucidity and television privileges—that was something, anyway. Now Serena lay stuporous in her cloacal chambers, on the protective-plastic-covered California King. Far from the madding crowd, as they used to say.