Sunday, September 30, 2007

Culture for sale at Fashion Bug -- $10 off

The bub and I drove back to Chicago this afternoon and because he napped like a champ for the first part of the trip (and because Barney's trip to the fair was enjoyed at a reasonable volume for the remainder), I was able to finish listening to The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird. A friend introduced me to Sarah Bird's writing a few years back, and I have now read five of her novels. My favorite of them is the one my friend first recommended to me, The Yokota Officers Club, but I would rank The Flamenco Academy right up there. I am too tired right now to write a summary or review that would do the novel justice, but if you enjoy novels that feature obsessions, transformations, intense female friendships, questions of legacy and history, and a real sense of place, you would likely enjoy this one. In addition to the fact that I found the story (and the stories within the story) compelling and Bird's writing beautiful, I also learned about things I had never even thought about before: the Spanish Civil War, Gitano (Gypsy) culture, the history of New Mexico, and Flamenco dancing.

Such knowledge gained through reading can be dangerous and/or obnoxious. After reading Devil in the White City, for example, I spent months starting sentences with, "Well, you know at the 1893 World's Fair . . ." -- until my husband finally read the book himself and then banned further discussions of the World's Fair. I have twice read Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley and fancy myself a bit of a horse racing expert (despite the fact that I have attended exactly one horse race, and that one years before reading the novel). Obviously, reading a whole host of novels set in Manhattan (Admissions, The Nanny Diaries, The Ivy Chronicles, just to name a few) makes me sure that I know how the very rich in NYC live and parent, just as I am an expert on London life thanks to Helen Fielding and Nick Hornby, Ireland because of Maeve Binchy, and etc. Point is, I am aware that reading novels (or in the case of Devil in the White City, nonfiction that reads like a novel) can be instructive but cannot replace the experience of, say, actually owning or training a thoroughbred.

So while I probably now know more about flamenco dancing and Gitano culture than the average American, I will remind myself to not speak with too much authority on either subject should the opportunity arise. Such an opportunity did arise this evening while I flipped through my new Entertainment Weekly and saw a Fashion Bug ad, complete with coupon. So let me just speak with authority for a moment: Based on my limited knowledge of Gitano culture, I am quite certain that the fact that Fashion Bug is introducing a new line called "Gitano" is somehow wrong and offensive. The symbol next to the large print GITANO suggests that the Bug has also copyrighted the name. Even better. That's right, to capture the spirit of your years in exile and the pain your people endured during the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust, and beyond, we have designed a new line of acrylic and rayon sportswear available in sizes 6-32. I'm no expert, but I think I'm right on this one. NTB.

Feel free to ignore the last paragraph, but don't ignore Sarah Bird!


Action said...

I am unsurprised by Fashion Bug’s cultural insensitivity. This is not exactly my favorite retailer. I once made an emergency stop in a Fashion Bug en route to a wedding in Bethlehem, PA. (Shockingly, there seemed to be no other women’s clothing boutiques in Bethlehem, though there was a huge “Unclaimed Freight” depot.) I was running quite late because of poor directions. I was also in desperate need of stockings because it was February and freezing outside and in my hurry, I had given myself a runner the size of the Jersey Turnpike. Although I was rushing like Emmitt Smith, the two women working at the empty Fashion Bug ‘helped’ me at a glacial pace. I’m not one for impatience generally, but to move matters along, I reported that I was late for a wedding and would love to check out ASAP. This did not deter the women from asking me if I was interested in filling out paperwork for a Fashion Bug credit card. When I declined, she pushed it a little, tempting me with a 15% discount off of my purchase. As much as I would’ve loved to save that 89 cents, I passed, again. PS, The Fashion Bug stockings were, I think, made out of naugahyde and gave me a rash.

CJR said...

This post only makes the lack of one on the Jane Austen Book Club movie more glaring. CJR

Anonymous said...

I was inspired to put a hold on some of Sarah Bird's novels at the Cincinnati Public Library. Thanks B!

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