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Category Archives: books

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 […]

Menswear books: Hardy Amies, ABC of Men’s Fashion

Whether in its original 1964 Newnes edition or its handsome 2007 Abrams reissue, ABC of Men’s Fashion strikes an elegant balance between authority and personality. Despite taking a more compact shape than an encyclopedia (128 small-format pages, to be precise), it does take an encyclopedic form. Beginning with a brief explanation of “Accessories”, Amies ends, […]

Menswear books: The Measure of a Man by JJ Lee

The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit presents us with an unusual form: the menswear memoir. It offers not the story of a life in the male garment trade, nor of a long career spent cutting and sewing. Nevertheless, it does contain a fair bit of material […]

Menswear books: Off the Cuff by Carson Kressley

About Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Bravo’s hit reality program that ran from 2003 to 2007, you may recall exactly one thing: that despite their presentation as paragons of taste, none of the “Fab Five” dressed with much of it. Or, more charitably, they seldom displayed what a Put This On reader might value. “The kind of […]

Menswear Books: Teruyoshi Hayashida, et al., Take Ivy

Boy, I want to go to college. Alas, I’ve already gone, and even if I hadn’t, being that I’m nearing thirty years old, “leading a college life in one’s thirties would be way too late.” That observation comes from a no less authoritative a study of university life and style than Take Ivy, but still, we must […]

Menswear books: Josh Sims, Icons of Men’s Style

I relish the menswear enthusiast’s life for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that we get less homework than women’s wear enthusiasts do. This very idea may strike you as ridiculous, especially if you keep up with Put This On and countless other sites like it, but remember: they strive, often frantically, […]

Peter Hyun and the Space Group of Korea: Seoul: The Magnetic City

“Taller and more ruggedly built than their counterparts in Tokyo, Manila, or Bangkok, the people of Seoul exude a sense of resiliency and vitality,” writes Peter Hyun in this book’s introduction, “so much so that they make the other Asians look downright indolent.” Ah, perhaps we have here a publication of the Korean History Channel. […]

Richard Meltzer: L.A. is the Capital of Kansas

This book came recommended by no less an authority than Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin when last I interviewed him. It’d intrigued me on runs to the downtown library to replenish my supply of Los Angeles-related reading, but I kept reshelving it; the subtitle Painful Lessons in Post-New York Living made me […]

Spencer Crump: Ride the Big Red Cars

We used to have the greatest public transportation system in the world, so goes the oft-told Los Angeles lore. Then, a shady consortium, their own strings pulled by automakers and road-builders, bought all the trains and the tracks just to rip them out and scrap them. I don’t know about that; I sense a few […]

Menswear books: Daniel Peres, The Details Men’s Style Manual

I confess to not quite knowing Details’ place on the landscape of gentlemen’s magazines. While glancing at its issues reveals a more deliberately tasteful publication than blunter, intensively airbrushed “lad’s mags” like Maxim (or its countless late imitators), it also lacks the pedigree of comparatively venerable midcentury-man staples like GQ or Esquire. Yet Details must […]