Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Booknote: Encyclopedia of the Exquisite

Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: an Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights. New York:  Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2010. ISBN: 9780385529693.

This is a curious book. It is somewhat reminiscent of older encyclopedias. Think here the old 10th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica for example or maybe older works. It reminded me a book I read a while back, All There Is to Know. On a side note, I may need to reread that book and post a review here sometime. Now the Jenkins book is not that lofty.

The book is a collection of anecdotes on various "delightful" topics. From the origins of badminton to red lipstick to trapeze, the book features a very eclectic selection of subjects. If you like trivia and tidbits, then this is a book for you.

In her introduction, the author recalls a grade-school jewelry box she had filled with knick-knacks and odds and ends. In the box, she kept things like a "prism that made rainbows, two Mexican pesos, an unusually large acorn cap, a miniature shell, the face of my father's old Timex, and a sample vial of Patou's Joy--all my treasures." That is the image the author seeks to evoke in this book. It works to an extent. For me an issue was that some of the prose was a bit slow to read at times. Like many collections, some subjects were more interesting than others. The book does have some good illustrations, but a few more subjects could have used an illustration as well for better definition.

I like this one, but it was not one I really liked, so I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

No comments: