Skip to content

Category Archives: books

Five favorite reads of 2013 on Conversational Reading

Conversational Reading collected five of my favorite reads this year, new or old, a list which wound up hitting Los Angeles, Japan, Mexico City, China, and spanning the mid-1940s to this year: Mario Bellatin (trans. David Shook), Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction. Despite the excitement he reliably gins up among his readers, Mario Bellatin, the […]

Men’s style books: Kevin Burrows and Lawrence Schlossman, Fuck Yeah Menswear

Whether published this century or the last, most men’s style books I pick up don’t present themselves as products of the internet age. This even holds for volumes that owe their very existence to the popularity of their authors’ blog, web series, Tumblr, what have you. So the process seems to have gone with Kevin […]

Men’s style books: Sex and Suits by Anne Hollander

Conversations about menswear writing kept coming to the same book: Anne Hollander’s Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress. Though led by a promising title, the content comes as something of a surprise. While enlightened enough to realize that a woman can, possessed of inherently fresh perspective, put together a men’s style book, I wouldn’t expect […]

Books about Vancouver

Though often overlooked as one of the great West Coast cities, Vancouver, BC synthesizes many of the most appealing qualities of its American counterparts. The Canadian outpost combines San Francisco’s walkability, Portland’s livability, Seattle’s seaside surroundings, and Los Angeles’ slickness, all in a carefully designed urban setting. The city’s current state is the result of […]

Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chapelle: Preppy

Most Americans I know hesitate to embrace all of “American culture.” This makes sense, considering the broadness of any such umbrella, one that would have to cover a population of 300 million with origins across the entire world. So we pick and choose from this country’s bulging social, political, cultural, and aesthetic grab bag, taking […]

Men’s style books: Tom Julian, The Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Style

I haven’t set foot in a Nordstrom in years. Come to think of it, maybe I’ve never entered one at all. They seem expensive, and I — perhaps you, too — tend only to break out that kind of money at the most obscurely specialized of specialty shops: places with new-old-stock tie clips from sixties […]

Cally Blackman: 100 Years of Menswear

About the menswear of the twentieth century, I can say this for sure: I don’t think I’d wear most of it. Neither would you, I imagine, unless you’ve thrown in your lot with the Brooklyn handlebar-mustache set, though in that case you’d have pledged allegiance to only a select set of time periods, stylistically compatible […]

Three novels by Kim Young-ha

DESPITE EXPORTING FOOD, film, advanced gadgetry, and dance music with unprecedented fervor and pride, South Korea has still produced curiously little in the way of an international literature. As Japan rose from the aftermath of the Second World War, so did vital men of letters like Kobo Abe, Oe Kenzaburo, and Yukio Mishima — names […]

Men’s style books: The Suit by Nicholas Antongiavanni

“The end is nigh,” tweeted an aphorist I admire, “for all books must now bear the explanatory subtitle — the mark of the beast.” The Suit’s title bears not just that mark, but one of interference before the colon as well. The author wanted to title his book The Dandy; his publisher, afraid that wouldn’t sell, proposedThe Suit: A Machiavellian […]

Bookforum syllabus: Western literary expats in postwar Japan

  My new syllabus for Bookforum magazine covers four favorite volumes on life in postwar Japan by four favorite literarily inclined Western expats: Pico Iyer, John Nathan, Donald Keene, and the late Donald Richie: The 1950s through the 80s saw Japan go from post-war disrepair to world-frightening powerhouse, adapting and even improving all manner of Western […]