Hotel Theory
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Hotel Theory

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Hotel Theory is two books in one: a meditation on the meaning of hotels, and a dime novel (Hotel Women) featuring Lana Turner and Liberace. Typical of Wayne Koestenbaum’s invigoratingly inventive style, the two books — one fiction, one nonfiction — run concurrently, in twin columns, and the articles “a,” “an,” and “the” never appear. The nonfiction ruminations on hotels ar...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 12th 2007 by Soft Skull Press (first published June 21st 2007)
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ofohsho
Excellent meditation on the phenomenon of hotels in consciousness, in literature, music, film.

In which Wayne Koestenbaum describes how Chopin's music embodies "hotel consciousness."

In which he defines "Hotel Woman" as "a fugitive sensibility or character, often feminine, reprieved from the rigors of fixed address."

"Within a Chopin nocturne's melody, the ornament is the guest (the hotel woman), the malingerer, the cause of malingering in others. . . The ornament sustains the culture of the noctu...more
Saxon
Wow, what a strange fucking book. Before you even read page one, you're forced to figure out HOW to read it. Each page has two running columns in different text. One column (Hotel Theory) is a loose, philosophical delve into Hotel-being. To do this Koestenbaum pulls at will from a wide variety of western-culture that includes but is not limited to Chopin, Walter Benjamin, Joan Didion and even something as campy as a Julia Stiles film. Along to way Koestenbaum attempts to expose the various aspec...more
Bart
Jan 28, 2008 Bart rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Postmodern readers
Recommended to Bart by: Kristin
The first puzzle is how to read this essay/novel. The next puzzle is how to enjoy it.

About thirty pages in, I decided to read it by skipping back and fourth between paragraphs, from left column to right column - from essay to novel - in the hopes of using the essay as a platform from which the novel might be better viewed. This worked only modestly well. As the essay seems the more serious exploration of the two, perhaps I should have used the novel to illuminate the essay.

Trouble is, there's no...more
Kristin
Feb 12, 2008 Kristin marked it as could-not-finish-it
I'm trying...I'm not giving up. But I have to step away for a while.

I appreciate what Kostenbaum is doing with this text, but (and I am only 34 pages in, so this is a very uneducated opinion)I don't see much in the way of progression; the same ideas are repeated over and over.

I think repetition is necessary in a book where there are intertextual "stories" written in two columns side by side--we need to be reminded of ideas, especially when we're switching back and forth, navigating through alte...more
Amanda
This is my new favorite book. After reading Hotel Theory, an impressionable reader may wish to rehabilitate with Liberace during a few questionable hours in El Salvador, the Lounge. Or, to experience the constant reappearance of mediocre-smelling soap, while eating food that materialized from bug-bombed, unpopulated halls. Be wary, the walls, though transparent, are visibly constructed and mesmerizing. The only annoyance—Liberace’s constant claims to the sweetest rooftop chairs. Finally, a supin...more
Mickey
Read this for the Newspaper. The idea is really interesting -- the author set up two running columns, the one on the left is a dime-novel about Liberace and Lana Turner having an affair, the one of the right is a cultural critique on hotels in general. There were some extremely beautiful imagery and ideas, coupled with some less articulated passages, but a provocative experience on the whole. (Postmodern lit; 300+ pages)
H. V.
Hi. Lana Turner speaking.
Neighboring meditations on what “hotel” means: space, identity, indifference, masturbation. A great book to read alone in a hotel room while drinking. Makes me feel as though I will never leave my apartment again, and regardless, every room is the same and home is nowhere.
Christopher
If your funny bone resonates to the pitch of camp, you may find this novel irresistible:

Liberace surfaced, shook his canine bone-dry, towel-wrapped his middle, and sauntered over to Whitehead's perch.

"Pardon me, but it smells funny," Liberace said. "Underwater."
Amy
Jun 14, 2007 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travelers
Shelves: recentlyread
it is true that hotel rooms are eerie places. this book is funny, sad, and incredibly weird. anyway, i wrote about it here -- http://www.bookslut.com/fiction/2007_...
Hank Stuever
Have always loved Koestenbaum's work; this one is a challenge, but worth it. For further thoughts, seek out my One-Man Book Club entries on my web site. (Easily found.)
Chris Estey
I love motels and hotels. And doppleganger texts; one fiction, one non.
Nora
Jul 22, 2007 Nora added it
in progress.

philosophy can be fun, even for an ex-major.
Uyen
Feb 23, 2011 Uyen is currently reading it
Not unlike Derrida's Glas
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In addition to Hotel Theory (Soft Skull, 2007), Wayne Koestenbaum has published five books of nonfiction prose: Andy Warhol, Cleavage, Jackie Under My Skin, The Queens Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and Double Talk. He has also published a novel, Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes, and five books of poetry: Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Model Homes, The Milk of Inquiry, Rhapso...more
More about Wayne Koestenbaum...
Humiliation Andy Warhol The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire My 1980s and Other Essays Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon

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