Note – the site seems to be acting up, as this says the review is by our fearless leader Mswas, but I promise that it’s from me (Lollygagger).
This is a book with no plot. And I don’t mean that in an insulting way – it literally has no plot because it’s not that kind of book. I found it in this great store in downtown Seattle that is filled with lotions, soaps, snacks, classic children’s toys and gift books. It’s the kind of store that groups items not by type but by packaging color. I could spend hours in there; on our first trip there I left with three books (see my CBR6 review #31), including this one.
It’s basically a book of nostalgia. In fact, the subtitle is ‘An encyclopedia of forgotten-yet-delightful, chic, useful, curious and otherwise commendable things from times gone by.’ So yeah, a book of nostalgia.
I tend to like books like this, and for the most part this one was entertaining, but some choices the author made strike me as odd. For example, included in this 250-page volume are many deceased celebrities. I get what the author was going for – let’s bring back the glamour of this actor or the whimsy of this designer, but it’s a little weird to just see a name and description of a deceased person in a book called “Let’s Bring Back.” It struck me as indelicate.
The other big drawback is that a couple of things that the author wants to bring back have decidedly unpleasant connotations. On the first page the author suggest bringing back ‘all-white rooms,’ which on the surface sound kind of cool – furniture, walls, everything all the same color (in this case, white). But the example she provides is from a plantation in Louisiana. I’m not really ever going to be on board with ‘bringing back’ anything about plantations; I’m sure she could have found a different example. She also makes a snide comment about Monica Lewinsky at one point, which is unnecessary and mean-spirited.
Putting the tone-deafness of these items aside, there are some genuinely fun things in this book. A few were reminders for me, even triggering an audible ‘oh yeah, we should bring that back.’ Others were just entertaining – usually for things like hot mustard mousse and other food I can’t imagine seeing on a menu these days. But a mechanical desk? Or words like ‘swell’? Yeah, I can see the appeal.