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by Joanna Dykhuis | LIT LIFE 616.291.2851

Bubblegum Pop Gets Chewed Up and Spit Out

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month of its release. She toured with N*Sync, posed on the cover of Rolling Stone and revealed her commitment to remaining a virgin until married (ha!). According to Chris Smith, an associ-



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David Sedaris Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo

April 5, 7:30 p.m. $25-$45, (269) 387-2300

Bestselling author, comedian, and spoken-word artist David Sedaris will be speaking at Miller Auditorium. Sedaris has sold more than seven million copies of his books, and is a regular contributor to NPR’s This American Life. Sedaris received a Grammy nomina- tion for the audiobook version of Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Sedaris is touring in support of his new book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Beastiary.

ate professor of media studies at Calvin College, 2008 was another benchmark year for Spears, but for darker reasons. The previous years had not been kind to Spears—images of her shaving her own head quickly come to mind. “We were talking about her as being

mentally ill, which we had never done before,” Smit said. “Why were we doing that? Why was that the center of our conversations? I began to think of her narrative in a bit of a different way … and started jotting down some notes about her and her story.” Smit was also having conversations with different female students

who opened up about their sexual realities, abuse and being objectified. The changing cultural attitude toward Spears and the frank conversa-

CHRIS SMIT Schuler Books and Music 28th Street location, Grand Rapids April 14, 7 p.m.

FREE!, (616) 942-2561

O SAY 1999 WAS a big year for Britney Spears is a laughable understatement. That is the year she released

her debut album, which went double platinum within a

tions with students led Smit to write The Exile of Britney Spears: A Tale of 21st

Consumption. It is not a fan’s biography, a moralistic denunciation or a gossipy tell- all, but rather an intellectual and critical look at how American culture has treated the unsinkable Britney Spears. That treatment has not been kind,

Smit would argue. The guiding metaphor of the book is “consumption, digestion and elimination.” As Spears rose to fame, fans could

not get enough of her. “We consumed Britney in a sort of

unconsciously violent process,” Smit said. “In this digital landscape, we think that what we do online is free from consequence [and so] female bodies are being consumed in a new way … I do think it was our work rather than hers that controlled her life.” When the pop princess began to ma-

ture, her goals changed, but her audience demanded that she stay the same. “She was really exiled out of cultural

favor—we told her what we don’t like and what we don’t expect: she is a mom, she struggled with marriage, struggled to be a good innocent girl,” Smit said. Spears fell from the good graces of consumers until her recent

comeback. “She’s going to hit it big again,” Smit said. “She is making it

under our even stronger control because there’s not much new going on in terms of art.” Smit says Spears is just one of the many stories about females and

their bodies that sprinkle the history of pop music. “Look at younger celebrity girls, and the same story is happening.” n

Other Literary Events | by Emily Midling

Rob Bell Barnes & Noble, Woodland Mall FREE!

April 3, 3 p.m., (616) 940-0820

Rob Bell, founding pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, will be speaking at Barnes & Noble. Bell just released his fifth book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived last month. Love Wins explores the idea of the afterlife, and how to deal with the questions people have a hard time discussing about heaven and hell.

Michael Deeb Englehardt Public Library, Lowell FREE!

April 12, 7 p.m., (616) 784-2007

CivilWar-era historical fiction author Dr. Michael Deeb will be at the Englehardt Public Library in Lowell. Deeb will be speaking about his fourth novel, The Lincoln Assassination, which features a character from Lowell. Deeb, who now resides on Florida, lived in Michigan for a considerable amount of time and has degrees from several Michigan schools. The Lincoln Assassination is a fictional book that investigates some of the conspiracies about Lincoln’s death.




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