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Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them Paperback – June 23, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jillian Venters was a fairly spooky and morbid child. When she discovered the existence of the whole Gothic sub-culture, she clapped her hands with glee and fell upon it like a babybat upon a box of Count Chocula cereal. Since then, the Lady of the Manners has spent a not inconsiderable amount of time trying to gently persuade others in her chosen subculture that being a polite Goth is much, much more subversive than just wearing T-shirts with "edgy" sayings on them. She lives in Seattle.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061669164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061669163
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By K. Reed on June 25, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Jillian Venters' Gothic Charm School website has for some time been offering advice, hints and tips on etiquette and lifestyle to her fellow Goths and those close to them. Always insightful, witty, and down-to-earth, she treats her correspondents with obvious respect and a healthy dose of affectionate humor.

The same respectful yet witty tone is liberally larded in this, her first volume distilling the essentials of the most common themes and topics in her advice columns. Though primarily aimed at the Dark and Spooky Crowd, most of what she presents here about dealing with a world that looks askance at those who are different will be taken to heart by anyone who is to either side of the mainstream, and her advice on manners is as applicable to snide cheerleaders as it is to gossipy Goths.

Pete Venters' droll, spot-on illustrations (in black and white, of course!) are a perfect accompaniment to the text and worth appreciating in their own right.

All in all, a very fine read, indeed.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By M. Monroe on June 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
While it may be aimed at Goths and those that love- or just want to understand- them, this book is a true show of why good manners are a good thing for EVERYONE. As a delighted reader of the GCS columns and a "Goth Friendly" person, I appreciate the humor and wonderful common sense (not so common anymore, really) advice Jillian has to offer. This book is a humorous and informative read!
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By DJ Eternal Darkness on June 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a first class guide to goth culture AND to every day etiquette. Perfect for babybats, Kindergoth, Eldergoth, and parents of well, basically any child that is strange and unusual. Jillian is humorous, thoughtful, witty, and perfect to present this essential guide. Everyone should buy this!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Nice costume! Halloween is over, freak!" How should a black-clad denizen respond? "The Lady of the Manners" explains Goths to the rest of us-- and "mundanes" to Goths. Once you wear black, should you ever talk back? Can Goths age gracefully, under umbrellas and sunscreen? How do you get makeup stains off the sink? What one-liners have Goths heard far too many times from the likes of gawkers like you?

Expanding her Gothic-Charm-[...] "gothy advice column," Venters in this spirited primer encourages: "Good manners for Goths, why you shouldn't dress like the Crow, or how, if you're going to wear whiteface, you should make sure you apply it on your damn ears and neck." (5) She emphasizes how "Goth is a subculture and (for some) a way of life, not an emotional template." (19)

This underlies her whole approach. She denies any "secret Goth cabal." She patiently relates the historical background, pop cultural contexts, snarkiness and cattiness, gossip, accoutrements, sartorial fripperies, sounds, and sights that Goths gravitate towards. She explores her subculture wittily.

She advises how Goths should act among themselves, online, at jobs, and in public. "You chose to dress that way, which means you don't get to complain about the attention your appearance garners." (186) Politeness rules, which appears to be a tricky point among an assemblage so devoted to gatekeeping, backstabbing, and mopes. A sub-heading is telling: "Why no one has an 'original' Goth look, so get over yourselves already." (199)

Her later chapters address her cohort, with plenty of detail on couture, cosmetics, and wardrobe-- not costume.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca C. Wright on June 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have followed The Lady of the Manners column for years. The book follows along with the humor and excellent advice that long time readers have come to expect.

The Goth subculture has sadly had it's share of unfortunate associations and misconceptions, but all of that is put to rest in this wonderful book.

Not only a great guide for Goth or would-be Goths and their friends and family but a good book of advice for someone that just wants to be a kind person without being a doormat;)

I find the book informative enough I purchased two, one from my home and one for the library I work at. Good advice and great presentation, an all around terrific book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thea & Eric on June 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gorgeously written and illustrated, this is a very practical and extremely entertaining book. My mother, who has always supported my very different views of life, has read this and says that everyone who is different should read it too. If you are a Goth, or if you just know someone who is - or even if you ever just wanted to know more about that Goth things any way - read this book. You will laugh and learn. And probably break down and shop too.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By K. Karnstein on June 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of you that are familiar with the Lady of the Manners' column, the short review is that you'll love the book. You'll find classic lessons revisited, such as manners towards curious bystanders, etiquette, and the old "Why friends don't let friends dress like The Crow". I personally enjoyed her list of favorite vampire books, as she and I share the same liking for them.

For those of you who don't know Jillian Venters, she is a classy columnist and a member of the Goth community for quite some time. With this book she tries to teach the essentials of Goth to those who are not familiar with the term, as well as explaining to familiars, friends and coworkers of goths the inside of the subculture. She provides too with lists of "typically goth" music, films and books. All of it written in an informal and educative manner, while the drawings of Pete Venters provide a lovely background to the text. There is a bit of everything, from swirly bats to decorated pages' numbers, cartoons... My personal favorite was the collection of different types of goth girls (in which I saw myself depicted a couple of times!).

An essential book for those that are curious about Goth.
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