Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style
As the former New York Times Critical Shopper, and voted one of Fashionista‘s 50 Most Influential People in New York Fashion, Cintra Wilson knows something about clothes. And in Fear and Clothing, she imparts her no-holds-barred, totally outrageous, astute, and hilarious wisdom to the reader.
Wilson reports the findings of her “fashion road trip” across the United States, a journey that took three years and ranges across the various economic “belt regions” of America: the Cotton, Rust, Bible, Sun, Frost, Corn, and Gun Belts. Acting as a kind of fashion anthropologist, she documents and decodes the sartorial sensibilities of Americans across the country. Our fashion choices, she argues, contain a riot of visual cues that tell everyone instantly who we are, where we came from, where we feel we belong, what we want, where we are going, and how we expect to be treated when we get there. With this philosophy in hand, she tackles and unpacks the meaning behind the uniforms of Washington DC politicians and their wives, the costumes of Kentucky Derby spectators, the attractive draw of the cowboy hat in Wyoming, and what she terms the “stealth wealth” of distressed clothing in Brooklyn.
In this smart and rollicking book, Wilson illustrates how every closet is a declaration of the owner’s politics, sexuality, class, education, hopes, and dreams. With her signature wit and utterly irreverent humor, Wilson proves that, by donning our daily costume, we create our future selves, for good or ill. Indeed: your fate hangs in your closet. Dress wisely.
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Caligula for President
Better American Living Through Tyranny
In this inventive and biting satire, acclaimed novelist and cultural critic Cintra Wilson reimagines America’s Manifest Destiny as helmed by Caligula, the only leader in world history capable of turning our floundering democracy into a fully functioning—and totally fun—tyranny, both here and abroad. With Caligula running the show, America will finally be able to achieve what the founding fathers really wanted, but never had the nerve to admit. Wilson also traces the historical arc of Caligula’s life and not-so-hard times, from his privileged childhood in Syria to his ascent to power to his eventual takedown by the hands of an angry populace, to point out the unsettling parallels between his own extravagant reign and a certain administration, which helped usher in a new golden age of unlimited executive power. Part political parable, part cautionary tale, Caligula for President is an ingenious and hilarious send-up of the current state of our Union by one of this generation’s sharpest satirists.
Colors Insulting to Nature
Look deep into your heart, Gentle Reader. Deep, deep, deep; past your desire for true love, for inexhaustible riches or uncontested sexual championship, for the ability to fight crime and restore peace to a weary world. Underneath all this, if you are a true, red-blooded American, you’ll find the throbbing desire to be famous.
In Colors Insulting to Nature, Cintra Wilson has fused a hilarious yet strangely touching coming-of-age story with a blistering satire of our celebrity-debased culture. In a world where unknowns compete to wear their ethical pants around their ankles on TV, where actors become presidents and plucky American Idols claw their way to stardom over the corpses of the dreams of a million wishful losers, Colors Insulting to Nature shocks us into seeing ourselves as we truly are, not as we think we look when we make that French pout face in the mirror. Not since John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Martin Amis’s Money, or, yes, Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel has an antihero peeled away the lamination of our society with such savage glee and empathy. Laugh, cry, cringe with self-recognition: Colors Insulting to Nature is a brilliant achievement.
A Massive Swelling
Celebrity Re-Examined As a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations
Warning: do not read this book at a wake, on a precipice, or with a full bladder. Unless you're a humorless fan of Cher, Michael Jackson, Barbra Striesand, or Mick Jagger, Wilson's turbo, heat-seeking essays about fame, the bane of our commodified culture, will induce bent-double, breathless laughter. A columnist for Salon and the San Francisco Examiner, Wilson, a latter-day Dorothy Parker without the self-hate, writes about the psychoses the lust for fame induces in the stars, their fans, and countless pathetic wanna-bes. In writing about boy bands, like the New Kids on the Block, Wilson reports on the disturbing fan mail they receive from women old enough to be their mothers. Excessive cosmetic surgery in pursuit of perfect bodies elicits blisteringly hilarious commentary on the likes of Courtney Love and Celine Dion. Smart, supercharged, ethical, and talented, Wilson also takes on the ersatz worlds of the Oscars and Las Vegas, and the malignancy of racism and sexism in Hollywood. Donna Seaman
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"Cintra is an original. She is talented, funny, and altogether exceptional." -- Francis Ford Coppola
"I like to laugh and I like to think and Cintra makes me do both out loud and in public. She tells the truth funny. She's brilliant, she's funny, and she's really good-looking in that sexy picture in the back of the book that you get for no extra charge. She's better than the best, but you can't afford her, so just buy her book. It's the only thing about her that's cheap." -- Penn Jillette, Penn & Teller
"If the subjects of Cintra Wilson's loathing continue to appear in public after this book is published, it must be because they can't read." -- Greil Marcus