The spectators : a novel / Jennifer duBois.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: Talk show host Matthew Miller has made his fame by shining a spotlight on the most unlikely and bizarre secrets of society, exposing them on live television in front of millions of gawking viewers. However, the man behind The Mattie M Show remains a mystery--both to his enormous audience and to those who work alongside him every day. But when the high school students responsible for a mass shooting are found to be devoted fans, Mattie is thrust into the glare of public scrutiny, seen as the wry, detached herald of a culture going downhill and going way too far. Soon, the secrets of Mattie's past as a brilliant young politician in a crime-ridden New York City begin to push their way to the surface. In her most daring and multidimensional novel yet, Jennifer duBois vividly portrays the heyday of gay liberation in the seventies and the grip of the AIDS crisis in the eighties, alongside a backstage view of nineties television in an age of moral panic. DuBois explores an enigmatic man's downfall through the perspectives of two spectators--Cel, Mattie's skeptical publicist, and Semi, the disillusioned lover from his past. With wit, heart, and crackling intelligence, The Spectators examines the human capacity for reinvention--and forces us to ask ourselves what we choose to look at, and why.
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
    • Accession Number:
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  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      DUBOIS, J. The spectators : a novel. First edition. [s. l.]: Random House, 2019. ISBN 9780812995886. Disponível em: Acesso em: 11 ago. 2020.
    • AMA:
      DuBois J. The Spectators : A Novel. First edition. Random House; 2019. Accessed August 11, 2020.
    • APA:
      DuBois, J. (2019). The spectators : a novel (First edition.). Random House.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      DuBois, Jennifer. 2019. The Spectators : A Novel. First edition. Random House.
    • Harvard:
      DuBois, J. (2019) The spectators : a novel. First edition. Random House. Available at: (Accessed: 11 August 2020).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      DuBois, J 2019, The spectators : a novel, First edition., Random House, viewed 11 August 2020, .
    • MLA:
      DuBois, Jennifer. The Spectators : A Novel. First edition., Random House, 2019. EBSCOhost,
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      DuBois, Jennifer. The Spectators : A Novel. First edition. Random House, 2019.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      DuBois J. The spectators : a novel [Internet]. First edition. Random House; 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 11]. Available from:


Booklist Reviews 2019 February #2

*Starred Review* So who is Matthew Miller, really: an attorney who is a public defender? A politician? A closeted gay? The host of the Mattie M Show, a sensational and sensationally popular afternoon TV program (think Jerry Springer)? Or is he all of the above? Answers are sometimes forthcoming from DuBois' co-protagonists, Semi, a playwright who is Miller's erstwhile lover, and Cel, a young publicist for the show. Semi tells his story in his thoughtful first-person voice, while Cel is remanded to third-person, the novel's action moving back and forth between them. Set in New York between 1969 and 1993, the novel offers a remarkably acute examination of gay life in the 1970s and, especially, in the plague years of the '80s, while inviting speculation about the place of the Mattie M Show in American popular culture. This last is exacerbated when two aggrieved teens responsible for a mass shooting at their high school are revealed to be Mattie M Show fans. What will the fallout of that revelation be? The Spectators is a beautifully written, even aphoristic novel ("promiscuity, like class, is a spectrum on which everybody claims the middle"), but its greatest strength is its characterization: Semi and his gay friends, Cel and her mother and grandfather, and, of course, the always enigmatic Mattie are brilliantly conceived and, like the novel in which they star, utterly unforgettable. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2018 November #1

Talk show host Matthew Miller chronicles a flailing, failing society by revealing the unsavory secrets of others on live TV, but no one knows much about him until high school students responsible for a mass shooting are revealed to be big fans and his own secrets as a rising young politician in New York City are spilled. From a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and a PEN/Hemingway and NYPL Young Lions finalist.

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2019 March #1

What causes a socially conscious public defender and burgeoning New York City politician to reinvent himself as the crass host of a reality television program designed to showcase our basest instincts? And what do we make of the 16 million spectators who thrill to the staged fights and tearful confessions on The Mattie M Show? DuBois (Cartwheel) takes readers on a trip from the late Sixties gay liberation movement, through the AIDS scourge in the Eighties, to the Nineties, when a mass school shooting still had the power to shock. Two narrators, Semi, a gay playwright and Matthew Miller's former lover, and Cel, Mattie's hapless publicist, attempt to unravel the mystery of the man whose public persona differs wildly from his private one. Dubois's writing is most powerful when channeling Semi, who rages against the disease that decimates the gay community, lamenting the exhaustion of caregiving, the weight of grief, and the resentment toward those who, like Mattie, are spared yet stay silent. Only years later, when fans of Mattie's show are blamed for an act of violence, will he take a stab at redemption. VERDICT A Whiting Award winner and Pen/Hemingway nominee, duBois writes an especially timely novel exploring the power of the media to foment chaos and the culpability of the public that validates the discord by watching. [See Prepub Alert, 10/8/18.]—Sally Bissell, formerly with Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL

Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2019 February #3

DuBois (Cartwheel) spans some 30 years of New York City history, moving between the queer gestalt of the 1970s and the television-junkie culture of the 1990s in her solid third novel. The story revolves around Matthew Miller, a sensationalist Jerry Springer–like talk show host who becomes the target of unwelcome media attention following a high school shooting whose perpetrators turn out to be fans of his The Mattie M. Show. Readers follow Mattie's put-upon publicist Cel as she navigates a treacherous landscape of scandal and recusal. But as the skeletons in Mattie's closet begin to emerge, readers become privy to the story of Semi Caldwell (who narrates a portion of the book), his secret past lover, when "Mattie" was simply Matthew, an upstanding lawyer and would-be politician in the heady days of Stonewall, before AIDS ravaged the gay community in the 1980s. As the story cuts between eras, the media circus that precipitates Mattie's fall from grace comes to mirror his abandonment of Semi, who eventually shows up at his TV studio looking for answers. DuBois beautifully handles Semi's half of the novel, told in first person, but the third-person Cel sections, in which she plays detective to piece together Mattie's past life, lack the power of Semi's. Though somewhat uneven, this is nevertheless a powerful novel. Agent: Henry Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Apr.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.