Previewing the 2006 Texas Book Festival


Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery

by Alex Kuczynski

Doubleday, 304 pp., $24.95

In the eternal effort to achieve the ideal look, one wonders how far is too far and whether we're already beyond it. Is this a field where necessity is the father of invention or a case of the evil stepmother with an aging complex? Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery goes into all the gory details of this neverland quest with a gonzolike assessment of the author's own obsession with plumping, lifting, and fitting in: It's a cross between a glossy brochure and a riveting pulp.

Rich with cocktail-party chatter, Beauty Junkies glides by in anecdotes, alternately naming names and coyly alluding, never short a quip or quote. This, coupled with the past, present, and future of the industry, makes for the meat of the book. Although often reading as "surgery-sploitation," it does offer frightening details on just how rampant bad plastic surgery is. For The New York Times writer herself, it takes a quickie Restylane/microdermabrasion session gone comically wrong – scheduled in between a funeral and burial, mind you – to learn the lesson that she might or might not retain but is more than eager to impart. Although she'll "never say never" to relapsing back into the Botox, she's been au natural for two years.

Sunday, Oct. 29, 3pm

Capitol E1.004

Alex Kuczynski; Intro: Mary Gordon Spence

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