Book Review: Interior Desecrations by James Lileks (2004)

I bought this book on the remainder rack at Borders for $1.00. It’s by a relatively obscure columnist from Minnesota….

All right, all right, I bought the book full price, okay? Lileks gets his fifteen cents of my money. Not that he needs it with his following, wherein acolytes daily stoop at his altar and do whatever his voice commands them.

The book features photos of mod (er, sorry, slang from the wrong decade) rooms depicted in interior design magazines from the 1970s interspersed with Lileks’ wit. Undoubtedly, most of them are outliers on the stylishness scale, but you’ve got to see them to believe them. Sure, it’s a rip-off of an X-Entertainment feature from a couple years back, but hey, Lileks has the pull to get it into print.

That aside, I liked this book more than I liked The Gallery of Regrettable Food because man, I can remember what it was like in the 1970s. A lot of the rooms in the book were in finished basements or in attics turned into additional bedrooms. Who has those now? Out here in the suburbs, houses are carefully crafted to have no space into which you can expand.

Also, this book reminded me of my red velvet table. You see, when I was in middle school, my family received a houseware which was essentially a cable spool wrapped in a shaggy red fabric. It’s a trailer park thing, you dig? When we moved into an actual house, we brought it along. I took it to college. I brought it home from college. I moved it to my apartment. Hey, it was a functional piece of furniture, of which I had a full eight in my apartment. Then it ran (or rolled) headlong into my wife, who has taste.

So I could relate better to this book because, quite frankly, but a birth a couple decades too late, I could have decorated like this. Actually, some of it’s kind of interesting. So I might yet. Also, Lileks’s text is shorter and more less linear than in TGORF, where he examined entire cookbooks in detail and each section ran on beyond its natural lifespan. With only a photograph to go on, Lileks’ quick humor fits better. Also, I read it in a night.

And I have a collector’s edition, which contains an incomplete word wrap erratum in the the author bubble on page 11. So run out and get yours before they correct it in the next printing. I read this book in Milwaukee, though, a city where no one can spell anything anyway, so this error was only one of many, many I encountered this weekend so I’ll let Lileks off easily by not crippling his Web host with a Briantrickle from this review. Hey, it’s almost the least I could do.