Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Gothic Charm School Is Now in Session

Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide to Goths and Those Who Love Them, by Jillian Venters (cupcake_goth) with illustrations by Pete Venters, is both enjoyable and appropriate for people who aren't even very Goth at all, this non-Goth proclaims! I assume that any Goths reading this post are already interested in the book, being part of the built-in audience, but you may want to read this book if any of the following apply to you:

You know a Goth personally: Does that person you hang out with who's always wearing black kind of freak you out? Jilli's here to tell you that you have nothing to worry about, and she will even tell you ways to politely engage in conversation with this Goth and, having learned a little more about the history of Goth and the Goth subculture, you will have things to talk about!

You're not a Goth, but you see one on TV: Although I don't watch NCIS, I know that there's a popular character named Abby who's a Goth. Now you can see how subculturally accurate her portrayal is! As above, if you've been exposed to Goths without knowing much about them, the book gives you a very good explanation of why Goths are gothy. The only chapter that really started to lose my interest was the chapter on fashion since it was not Relevant to My Interests, as I have no sense of fashion, but everything else is still interesting to non-Goths.

You're not a Goth, but you're Something Else: As I suspected, a lot of the Lady of the Manners's advice applies to anyone who's "different." If you're a little left of normal for whatever reason, you likely experience some of the awkwardness, prejudices, and misconceptions that the Goth community does, and Jilli can help you deal with that sort of thing.

You're not a Goth, but you're not sure What You Are: What struck a chord with me while reading the book is how comforting it must be to be Goth. Because it affords you a template upon which to construct your own identity. It gives you an outlet to express yourself. In delving into what is a Goth and what is not a Goth, falling headlong into this whole different world of aesthetics, you start to wonder what your own system of aesthetics and identity are, even if it's not Goth. What makes you you?

You're an asshole: The Lady of the Manners's #1 Manner is "Treat everyone as you wish to be treated." Her advice about how to behave in public, at work, at clubs, with roommates, when dating, on the Internet, and in any number of other situations is sound whoever you are. It is a good reminder of the general rules of etiquette, and we could all use a refresher.

It's also good if you just want to while away a few hours learning something new and laughing all the way. Jilli writes as if she's addressing you, the reader, giving the book a readable, informal tone that lends itself to witty asides and amusing digressions. I will admit, the third-person affectation can be a bit grating at times (I've never read a book where the author referred to herself in the third person the whole time), but you get used to it. Another minor annoyance was the fact that terms like babybat and babygoth and gothling are used throughout and written in spooooky font, but there's no glossary and, although most of the spoooooky words are defined through context clues, I couldn't really figure out the distinctions between the terms since they appeared to be used interchangeably at times. Knowing exactly what age range each term encompasses, however, isn't really essential to one's enjoyment of the book. Besides, any flaws are balanced out by Pete's lovely illustrations—I particularly liked the depictions of all the different Goth fashion styles (Deathrocker, Perkygoth, Rivethead, Cybergoth, etc).

So buy Gothic Charm School and support my friend Jilli, Goths everywhere, and good manners!

Tags: books, buffistas, identity crisis, pimpings
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