Shampoo Reviews: Greed & Faith

January 13, 2008 § Leave a comment

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas
A fashion writer for Newsweek, Thomas dives into the luxury industry — Louis Vuitton, Prada and others — and examines the consequences globalization, conglomerates and counterfeiting have wrought (i.e., homogenized storefronts from Las Vegas to Tokyo, ridiculous profits for shoddily made goods and sweatshops full of kids). All of this is bad, bad, bad … not necessarily the kind of thing you want to read while you’re laying in a cabana on the beach in Mexico, with designs on those glorious duty-free stores just a few blocks away. Thomas gleefully makes Marc Jacobs look like an asshole — she begins a chapter on counterfeiting with a quote from Jacobs about how it’s great, it’s flattery!; then moves the action into a sweatshop filled with 12- and 13-year-old children where those flattering knockoffs are created (For the record: I do adore Marc; but I feel like he’s due to be knocked around a bit). Yet her loving focus on Hermes, Chanel and Christian Louboutin — three brands who hold to their traditions of hand-made goods — just made me want to plunk down a deposit on a Birkin (never going to happen), start wearing Chanel No. 5 (too strong — though I did invest in Coco duty-free) and splurge on these Louboutin pumps (maybe) more than ever. All in all, a good read, but not good for my savings account.

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta
The pressure Perotta must have been feeling when writing this book — a battle between Christianity and atheism personified in a born-again drug addict and a high school sex ed teacher — is palpable in every sentence. It’s almost like he was thinking: After Little Children, everyone expects me to be the voice of American suburbia, so be the voice of American suburbia I SHALL. And it all comes across as too much — as though he spent most of his time cataloging the cliches of suburbia (Youth Soccer Teams! Empty McMansions! Divorced Mom With Vibrator!) and Christianity (Bible Studies! Faith Keeper Rallies! Overbearing and Intrusive Pastor!), but no time developing the plot. The comeuppance I expected for the holier-than-thou (yes, I went there) Pastor never materialized, and truth be told, I didn’t realize the last page of the book was the last page until I turned the page and found Perotta’s Anderson-Cooper-esque mug staring back at me from the inside jacket flap. There’s essentially no ending, no resolution to this book — and I don’t mind when endings aren’t tidy, if at least they’re believable in their untidiness, in their characters’ motivations for inaction, but sorry, Tom, I didn’t buy any of it for a second.

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