Friday, December 03, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: Let’s Bring Back by Lesley M.M. Blume

Huffington Post columnist Lesley M.M. Blume’s Let’s Bring Back (Chronicle Books) is an elegant, nostalgic look back at a time that perhaps never was.

Based on her column of the same name, Let’s Bring Back is “An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things.” As Blume says in an introduction:

An encyclopedia of nostalgia, Let’s Bring Back celebrates hundreds of discarded and forgotten objects, pastimes, curiosities, recipes, words, architectural works, and personas ... from bygone eras that should be reintroduced today.
At home doctor visits. The Automat. Fern-Hunting Parties. Gold Teeth (“So festive. Also handy assets in a recession.”) Hotel living. Liveried footmen. Attention spans. Latin.

As you can glean just from this short list, only some of the things Blume writes about here are things that even could come back. Many of the things she lists are better fondly remembered than actually lived with.

Chimney sweeps. Phone numbers that include exchange names. Suitcase record players. Cigarette Girls. Bathtub gin stills. Hired mourners. Quills and ink.

And some of them don’t need bringing back at all because, in some places, they never left.

Dancing. Hobbies. Witch hazel. Mayonnaise. Maps. Discreet voices. Crumpets.

Though some of the things included are questionable, Blume’s style and wit are not. She has approached her project with the kind of grace that she celebrates with this enjoyable, sometimes whimsical book. Diana Vreeland would have been proud. ◊

Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

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