The Thoughtful Dresser

Grant begins with a question: what kind of person arrives at Auschwitz with a pair of red high heels? A single such shoe now lives in the museum's famous pile, among thousands of drab others. But this fascinating query gets left behind in favor of occasionally perspicacious, more often rambling musings on why what we put on our bodies counts. "Only babies don't worry about what they look like," she writes, "and only because no one has yet shown them a mirror." In between the usual points about identity (we dress to project who we wish we were) and pleasure (ornamenting ourselves is an ancient, joyful pastime for both sexes), Grant sharply defends her interest.


Anyone claiming fashion to be the purest sort of frippery belies a misogynist agenda. Rather, various trends helped women achieve independence—the frame leather handbag, for example, allowed nineteenth-century ladies to be out of the house for great lengths of time. Because these arguments have appeared elsewhere, Grant frequently resorts to reminiscences about her mother's champion shopping skills, as well as her own forays into vintage, modish minis, and, now, expensive labels. Changing styles not only mark time and help us hide its ravages but also satisfy an innate desire for the new. If asked, she'd probably argue that the identity of the concentration camp prisoner makes no difference, because we already know the fundamentals: she liked shoes, she sometimes felt carefree, she was one of us. As with a catalog, this blog-turned-book is best thumbed through. Whether you buy depends on what you have at home. 

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.