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The Reality Shows
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KAREN FINLEY’s raw and transgressive performances have long provoked controversy and debate. She has appeared and exhibited her visual art, performances, and plays internationally.

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The Reality Shows

Karen Finley

Foreword by Kathleen Hanna

No other performing artist has captured the psychological complexity of this decade as Karen Finley has. In her inimitable style, she has embodied some of the most troubling figures to cast a long shadow on the public imagination, and has envisioned a kind of catharsis within each drama: Liza Minnelli responds to the September 11 attacks; Terri Schaivo explains why Americans love a woman in a coma; Martha Stewart dumps George W. Bush during their tryst on the eve of the Republican National Convention; Silda Spitzer tells the former governor why “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough; and the ghost of Jackie O cries, “Please stop looking at me!" The Reality Shows is a revelation of a decade by one of our greatest interpreters of popular and political culture.

"Karen Finley is a profound theater-artist. Her artistry is due in part to her ability to alchemize 'news' and make it art. She takes the viewer by the throat as she screams, cajoles, and seduces us into some awareness of the world at large. Finley's brilliance lies in this fact, too: her insistence that we look at our respective souls by having us view her characters own, even as we want to look away. She is irreplaceable."

—Hilton Als, New Yorker theater critic

"The Reality Shows gives you the words—the incantations on pages— that power Finley's performances and allow readers to linger in ways live audiences never can."

—Lisa Duggan, Professor of American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies, NYU

“In her writing, pop culture mixes with rage, which mixes with sexuality, feminism, and danger. In the end you have a book that feels like it is breathing inside your bag. Abundant, overboard, too much. Like her performances I can read her books again and again and get something different each time.”

—Kathleen Hanna, from the Preface

“In The Reality Shows, what Finley gives us to see— and see anew—is both harrowing and hilarious. In a double move, Finley takes us from belly laugh to punch to the stomach, the laughter ripping the stomach open wide enough to let in some unsettling truths.”

–Ann Pellegrini , from the Introduction

“Ms. Finley hasn’t lost the power to disturb."

—Ben Brantley, New York Times

“[The Reality Shows] is a deeply "written" project, intended for the page as much as the stage.”

-- David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

"Finally I had found a feminist writer who didn't have to chop herself into bits to be comprehended. Instead she casually blurred the line between the personal and the political and refused to ignore the fact that sexuality is wrapped into everything."

—Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre

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