From Publishers Weekly
With deadly wit and a nose for fakery, Fussell takes aim at the bad, things promoted as highly desirable that are in fact trivial; his targets are arrayed in A-to-Z format, each dispensed with a single mini-essay.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
From Fussell, a great crying out at just about everything that's awful about today's America. Bad things have always been around--cheap, false, deceitful; but when, as in our deluded ``age of hype,'' these things are not just swallowed whole but are declared to be ``better than any other sort,'' then ``bad'' is raised to ``BAD,'' otherwise understood as the culture-wide ``manipulation of fools by knaves'' that makes up the reality of our everyday experience in a nation that's insecure, ``subadult,'' and ``intellectually deprived.'' Fussell (Wartime, 1989, etc.) chronicles the shabby charade that comprises life in America, organizing his laments into a bitterly hilarious reference book with entries from ``BAD Advertising'' through ``BAD Television,'' with stops in between, for example, at airlines, beliefs, conversation, engineering, language, people, poetry, and even restaurants. The key idea throughout is that what determines true ``BAD'' is ``the distance between appearance and reality,'' and what Fussell is really decrying is the class insecurity, the ``doltishness and provincialism,'' that causes Americans to love the third-rate and to have not a clue as to the genuine. ``BAD Colleges and Universities'' may be the central entry in the whole, since wholesale and happily complacent ignorance lies at the heart of the horror. Out-Menckening Mencken in his silver-tongued diatribes at bunkum and pretense and fraud, Fussell slips sometimes into mere disgust, or worse, into plain insensitivity (West Virginia is a place where the waitresses ``will have no teeth''); but in declaring America to be a clownish nation empowered today only by ``a conspiracy against actuality,'' he addresses what might just be the awful truth about the last rotting timber our house stands on. With droll and despondently elegant wit, a study of the manipulated ignorance of our mass culture, and a dirge for the ``wiping-out of the amenity and nuance and complexity and charm that make a country worth living in.'' Domestic--and invaluable- -Fussell. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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