The Way We Are

Margaret Visser, Author Faber & Faber $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-571-19885-6
Award-winning Toronto author Visser (Much Depends on Dinner) packs a wealth of intriguing information into this collection of witty essays. All but one of the deceptively short pieces were originally published in Saturday Night magazine and have as their subject matter quite commonplace objects and activities of everyday life. Visser's forte is to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary by providing a cultural history of its evolution (each piece has a bibliography). The practice of showering, for example, was considered dangerous and became habitual only in the last 40 years, after central heating. Until the 1900s, when they established themselves as ``professionals,'' doctors and lawyers accepted tips in the same manner that waiters and hairdressers do today. The concept of paid vacations has its roots in 1920s fascist Italy, where workers were ordered to take time off to exercise their bodies. An insightful volume that will delight both fans and newcomers to Visser's writing. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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