Cleopatra's Nose

Judith Thurman, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $27.50 (427p) ISBN 978-0-374-12651-3

While this delightful new collection of essays is culled from 20 years at the New Yorker , most have appeared since 2000. Thurman's writing in the past seven years, despite a tangent or two, displays the qualities that best serve a cultural critic: intelligence, curiosity, sharp wit and little tolerance for fools. There's an edge of imperiousness about Thurman, which is reflected in many of the people she writes about, such as the Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft, designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Rei Kawakubo, and Madame de Pompadour. Thurman writes primarily about fashion, its personages, trends and history, but there is room in this collection for some extracurricular interests, too; in addition to some fine book reviews and historical pieces, we get personal looks at the art of making tofu, the history of New York row houses and a lovely vignette of an evening spent with Jackie Onassis, smoking cigarettes and talking about men. Fashion, no longer ghettoized as a trifling women's concern, has grown increasingly popular in our cultural imagination, but it is ephemeral, dependent upon seasonal change. It is to Thurman's credit that she not only celebrates the creative exuberance of fashion but, in her intellectual probing, considers its lasting significance, too. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 427 pages - 978-0-312-42775-7
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4299-2300-2
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