Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz

Reviewed by Connie  

Published: 2006

It's about: Yes, yes, another book about flappers. I told you, I'll take any opportunity to read about women, women's issues, and women's studies. This book, like Posing a Threat, is about the flapper decade -- 1920s America. This book, however, focuses more on the celebrities and big wigs that popularized and perpetuated the flapper movement. It describes in detail the romance of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the romping adventures of The New Yorker writer "Lipstick," and the rise of select movie stars that made the young, rebellious girls of the time go wild wanting to be like them.

I thought:  [Long pause] Ehh.... it's somewhat enjoyable. I suppose my opinion will be a little skewed, considering that I read this one directly after reading another book on the same topic. Zeitz has completely different assumptions about the flapper movement than Latham did, who described it as a grass roots movement. He focuses less on the average flapper and more on the names in the newspapers of the times -- though that isn't to say those big names' lives aren't interesting. Being bookish myself, I enjoyed reading about literary genius F. Scott Fitzgerald and the romance that inspired so many of his works as well as about the beginnings of famous magazine The New Yorker. I just don't know if I buy into the argument that they began and can take full responsibility for the general attitude of the decade.

Also, I don't know if it's because the author is a man or because he merely disapproves, but most of the book seems to be condemning the flapper movement as mindless, teenage rebellion and lots and lots of sex. And then lots more sex. Especially in comparison with Posing A Threat, Zeitz seems to oversimplify a complicated movement, and then harshly judge that oversimplified image.

Verdict: This one belongs somewhere in between

Reading Recommendations: As I've mentioned before, as this is a non-fiction historical account, if this subject matter doesn't interest you at all, don't bother. If the subject matter does interest you, consider this one... though consider some other ones first.

Warnings: This guy talks about sex a LOT. Not description stuff.