The Reality Shows
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 Schiavo 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."
"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."
“"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... 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.”
“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.”
“Ms. Finley hasn’t lost the power to disturb."
“[The Reality Shows] is a deeply "written" project, intended for the page as much as the stage.”