Self-help books (from yesterday) always make me think of Walker Percy, and Walker Percy always makes me think of Tom Wolfe, and Tom Wolfe makes everyone think ofThe Bonfire of the Vanities , but have you ever read
From Bauhaus to Our House ? By Tom Wolfe?
This slim volume (I love saying that) from 1981 tells the bizarre story of how we, the consumer, were quietly conned into accepting “grim and hideous” as the two main pillars of modern architecture — not that pillars have any place in modern architecture. There has been a small movement back toward beauty and ornamentation in the last few years, but the metal and glass box still has a firm grip on our aesthetic sensibility (gosh, I’m tired. Well, you know what I mean).
Anyway, even if you’re not normally interested in architecture (and you should be! What we build tells you who we are, or who we want to be), this weird and hilarious book will open your eyes to What Happened; and it’s a great intro to the non-fiction writing of Tom Wolfe, which I prefer to his fiction. Ha ha, and Playboy magazine reviewed it thus: “Sharp serpent’s-tooth wit, useful cultural insight, and snazzy zip! pop! writing.” So there you have it. Snazzy and zip pop.