Vapor: A Novel by Amanda Filipacchi with Excerpt and Giveaway

Welcome to my review for Amanda Filipacchi’s novel, Vapor – and don’t forget to enter my giveaway where one lucky winner will get eBook copies of Love CreepsNude Men and Vapor.

Book Review:

An interesting construct of satire and fantasy, the slow development and near deadpan delivery of the narrative belie the pointed and often amusing jabs taken at all things ‘celebrity’ and the compulsions that often override sense and humanity in the quest for fame at all costs.

Anna is a middle of the road person – not a great actress, not a great thinker, not particularly gorgeous or even talented: but her overwhelming desire and obsession is to become a famous and lauded actress. Essentially lacking in talent or the emotional honesty to see this, her ‘exercises’ in emotional portrayals were intriguing, even as her own interior monologue shows her utter disconnect with the material, and lack of depth in her own experience to find and make that connection. What is even funnier is that she is constantly trying to ‘downplay’ her aggressive tendencies, at a suggestion from her acting coach.

When she happens to be in the right place to save a man from a mugging, the story starts to take some ridiculously odd twists that serve to keep the reader off balance, but always intrigued. Damon was the man Anna saved, a scientist who sees her as the epitome of woman, and his repayment for her good deed is to grant her a wish, and then kidnap her to keep her for himself.

Yeah- it’s weird, and it’s twisty and funny and particularly pointed, leaving me much like a character in the book – there are celebrities that we see who have no particular talent, skill or redeeming features – yet there is an appeal, a draw.  And that is Anna in a nutshell.   Delightfully quick to read, the story feels lighthearted and fluffy, but when you finish, you cannot stop thinking about it. Information about celebrity, self-absorption and self-awareness and do they necessarily cancel one another out, or does the gain of one mean the loss of another?  I’ll leave you to figure that all out with this unique novel.

Vapor: A Novel by Amanda Filipacchi with Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: Vapor: A Novel
Author: Amanda Filipacchi
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Open Road Integrated Media
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 320
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

Get Your Copy: Amazon iTunes Downpour
See this Title on Goodreads

The Pygmalion myth recast by one of America’s boldest and most bewitching storytellers

Anna Graham has one ambition—to be a great actress. The only problem is, she can’t stop being herself. She is proud, stubborn, and moody; according to her acting teacher, she needs to be as bland and pliable as warm wax. Even when she rents a Good Fairy Queen Costume—complete with crown, wand, and wig—and walks the streets of New York City until three thirty in the morning, she fails to be anyone but Anna Graham. “Help,” she thinks, smoking a cigarette in a deserted subway station. “Help!” screams a man at the other end of the platform as two attackers pull him onto the train tracks. Red pepper spray in hand, the Good Fairy Queen rushes to Damon Wetly’s rescue—and Anna’s wish comes true, in the oddest way imaginable.

Locked inside a cage in Wetly’s cloud-filled country home, Anna learns to do everything—walk, talk, think, eat, breathe—differently. When she finally escapes, she becomes a star—as Wetly promised she would. The new-and-improved Anna attracts plenty of admirers—including a paraplegic soap opera celebrity; the world’s most famous supermodel; and a handsome cellist, Weight Watchers counselor, etiquette expert, and exotic dancer named Nathaniel Powers—but she only has eyes for her former captor, the creator of miniature clouds and major actresses. Just when it seems that her fairy tale ending is right around the corner, Anna’s whole world threatens to evaporate into thin air.

Fearless and fascinating, Vapor holds a funhouse mirror up to some of our deepest and most alluring notions about fame, identity, and desire.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


For months I had been trying to be less myself. This effortextended to every aspect of my life, including my personal tastes andopinions. I wanted to be pliable like warm wax. I began to admire vaguepeople, even weak and spineless ones, and ones who could be easilyinfluenced, or better yet, who had not much of an opinion to start with, on

My acting professor, Aaron Smith, had repeated to me many times

that my problem with acting was that my personality was too strong, and

that therefore I was unable to adopt a different one, or even a variety of

I took his words seriously. I believe the reason I followed Aaron

Smith’s advice with so much tenacity was partly out of stubbornness. He

had provoked me, in a sense, and it was a challenge I was determined to

meet, even though I had almost lost sight of the original and ultimate goal:

it just so happened the only thing I cared about in life was becoming a

great actress. Let me say right off that it was not necessarily for the fame

and the glamour, but for more noble and worthwhile reasons that had to do

with art and a fascination with, and love of, human behavior.

Today, like every month, I was having a meeting with this same

professor in his office in school. But this time he was crushing me to bits.

I listened to him, shocked.

“Anna,” he was saying, “I advise you to switch career goals, and

I’ll be very blunt as to why. You’re twenty-seven years old, you have a

cute face, but it’s by no means ravishing, and let’s just say that the rest of

your body does not make up for it. You could not be a leading lady.

I needed a cigarette, but the large No Smoking sign behind his

desk stopped me from reaching into my bag for one.

Aaron then reiterated his usual criticism of me: I was myself too

much. Or: I was too much myself. Same thing, but he always varied the

wording a little, as if it would help me understand his concept better and I

would do something about it.

As he continued talking, he got harsher and blunter. He went to the

extreme this time. No ambiguity. It was a nightmare. He then made a

strange request that was so unexpected and stupid, yet so humiliating

despite its stupidity, that I tried to forget about it as soon as I left his

Chiara Mastroianni was standing outside the door, waiting to see

him. I briefly said hi to her and hurried off. This particular student was a

very good actor, which might have been partly due to the fact that she

happened to be the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello

Mastroianni, and therefore had acting in her genes. And it probably also

helped to have been raised in that kind of actor’s atmosphere.

I was not fortunate that way. My parents were fencers. My mother

was a champion fencer and gave lessons. My father fenced well too, but

he wasn’t a champion, he was the super of an apartment building. My

brother and I had been subjected to fencing since we were born, so we had

no choice but to end up quite good at it. To my annoyance,

communication in our family was achieved principally through this

medium. We fenced to express anger, to play pranks, to tease, to irritate, to

persuade, and even, in the most convoluted way, to express inexpressible

love. (In addition, it was pretty obvious my parents had their own, private

uses for fencing, not shared by the rest of the family: seduction and

foreplay.) But I don’t think it could be said, by any stretch of the

imagination, that fencing was helpful to my acting. Except, I could play

I walked in the street feeling annihilated and powerless. I bought

myself a pair of sunglasses from a street vendor, to hide my crying.

Chiara was probably enjoying a splendid conference with Aaron

Smith at this very moment. As for me, I never imagined conferences could

get as bad as mine had.

Evidently my efforts at erasing my personality hadn’t been

successful. I hadn’t tried hard enough. But how was that possible? I

recalled numerous “attempts at selferasement, many of which occurred at

my job at the Xerox shop, and also in my uncle’s jewelry store, where I

pierced ears part-time to help him out. My natural tendency was to have a

rather bad temper when I was even just slightly provoked, and in my six

years of ear piercing, I had endured many dramas, many scenes, many

fights. Ear piercing is a field rich in possible conflicts; there are an infinite

number of potential causes for problems, and I had experienced a large

number of them, ranging from clients hesitating, asking infinite questions,

fainting, wanting to do it themselves, to the ear stapler breaking,

puncturing the ear at the wrong place, holes being not even, holes getting

infected, clients hitting you when you pierce them.

But in the last few months I had restrained my temper remarkably,

including the time when a rude and pretentious young woman entered the

store and hit me, before I even pierced her, simply because she felt the

cold of the stapler on her ear. I did not hit her back. All I did was pretend

the stapler slipped, and I pierced her high up on the ear, far, far from the

And that was just one of many little efforts, in everyday life, at

being as bland as possible. I also made these efforts with my family. For

instance, it was ages since I had reprimanded my parents for fencing in the

lobby of the building they lived in and of which my father was supposed

to be the superintendent, or gotten mad at him (he’s a hemophiliac) for not

wearing his protective gear, or screamed at either of them for saying “En

garde!” and drawing their swords every time I attempted to have a

meaningful exchange with them.



About Amanda Filipacchi

Amanda Filipacchi is an American writer best known for her humorous, inventive, and controversial novels.

Filipacchi was born in Paris, France, was educated in France and the U.S., and holds both U.S. and French citizenship. She has been living in New York, United States since the age of 17.

Her fiction has been translated into 13 languages and has received critical acclaim in the U.S. and around the world.

AMANDA FILIPACCHI has been described by the New York Times Book Review as a “lovely comic surrealist.” Her books have been translated into 13 languages and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Atlantic. Her novels have been called “hilarious and thought-provoking” by Tama Janowitz and “whimsical and subversive” by Edmund White. Filipacchi earned her MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University.

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