Among this year's crop of coffee-table tomes -- celebrating four centuries of French armoires or the sun-drenched colors of Santa Fe style -- scurries a most welcome garden-party skunk.There is one page in it - I won't mention it - that is a complete Aesthetic Abomination. An Atrocity. Now the book is filled with an aesthetic that is 99 44/100ths percent devoid of anything remotely resembling taste. But this goes beyond that.
The book, "Interior Desecrations: Hideous Homes From the Horrible '70s," is a full-throated rant against the decade of shiny op-art wallpaper, plaid upholstery and long-haired rugs in a palette dominated by orange, green and brown, everywhere brown.
For 176 pages, most featuring eye-jangling photos in full color that actually appeared in well-regarded design magazines of the era, author James Lileks ridicules an aesthetic he lived through and loathes. In prose by turns vulgar, blasphemous and hilarious, he takes no decorating prisoners.
I've been a fan of James Lileks, and his Gallery of Regrettable Food, for some years now. By coincidence, we have a mutual friend (not merely an acquaintance), Gnat Lileks' Nana (who incidentally makes the most fantastic caramels on the planet ). James has been introduced to some reasonably good plonk from the Canberra region, Gnat has a plush Platypus called 'Sydney', and me, I have both of the Lileks tomes, signed by the author.
I've never met James Lileks. I've never met Gnat. For that matter, I've never physically met Gnat's Nana, or her husband, Senor G. But one day, Andrew, Carmel and I may yet get to Minneapolis, Minnesotta. Or they may come to Downer, Australian Capital Territory. In the meantime, I'll bask (at a considerable distance) in a small iota of Reflected Glory.
Oh yes, you may find some illustrations from an early 60's edition of the "Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook" popping up in some future Lileks work. Australian readers may know the kind of thing I mean. The Horror... The Horror... You Have Been Warned.