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Interior Desecrations: Hideous Homes from the Horrible '70s
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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2004
If you thought home decor from the '70s was all about shag rugs and lava lamps, think again. James Lileks, who brought readers a look at tasteless foods from the 1940s through the 1960s in "Gallery of Regrettable Foods," now turns his critical eye to outrageous interior decorating schemes of the 1970s. This "labor of hate" will have you simultaneously laughing and wincing as Lileks introduces you to atrocities designed by decorators run amok and purchased by people who were seemingly in a drug-induced haze at the time. These decorating no-nos were gleaned from interior design magazines, books, and pamphlets. They depict entryways, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, and family rooms.

Within the covers of "Interior Desecrations" are infectious pattern viruses that spread like a malignancy from couch to rug to drapes to wall covering. There are bedrooms that defy a good night's sleep and kitchens that cause indigestion. There are photos of vertigo-inducing reflective wallpaper on walls and ceilings. There is a parade of startling psychedelic patterns, nauseating colors that run the gamut from blinding to "downer browner," bad art, and unidentifiable coffee table sculpture for you to ponder. I found a birth-canal shaped bathroom of particularly horrifying interest.

As incredible as the photos are, their impact is enhanced with sharp-witted and hilarious commentary. Lileks throws in such comments as "The Invisible Man would clash with this sofa" and "Visual equivalent of granulated glass in your eyes." He labels especially hideous decor with such designations as "the Taj Mahell" and "Funhouse dining room." Baby boomers beware. If anything will cure you of nostalgia for what you thought of as the hip 1970s, this book will. But buy it anyway - it's wickedly funny.

Eileen Rieback
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2004
A few years ago, when I was dating my now husand, I spotted Mr. Lilek's Interior Desecrations web site. I sent the URL to my beloved, and we spent a long evening on the phone, howling with laughter and spluttering with tears in our eyes and stomachs hurting from the funny.

And then the site disappeared, and a book was promised.

Now the book is here, and oh it is wonderful. The husband and I spent a couple of hours curled up on the couch together, sputtering and laughing at horrifying bedrooms, astoundingly bad bathrooms, and terrifying entry ways. Just like the Gallery of Regrettable Food, you really have to see some of these things to truly believe how /bad/ they are. And just when you think you've covered how bad it is, Mr. Lileks has a snappy comment that puts the awfulness into even sharper (and funnier) relief. Exceedingly witty writing as always from this author.

My only complaints are that a couple of my favourite jokes from the web site seem to have disappeared, and that there are some fairly obvious typographical errors. Nothing that really takes from the readability though.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2004
Ah, we teens thought we were so cool in the '70's. That new TV show about the '50's, "Happy Days"?? Hilarious! Those clothes, that music, those decorating styles! No one, we were sure, would EVER make fun of the '70's.... no, we were too "with it," too "where it's at."

Fast forward thirty years, behold the excruciating microscopy that is Interior Desecrations, and be ashamed. Be very ashamed. Did we ever really beg our parents to buy plastic chairs and shag carpet for the "rumpus room"? Did we ever really think no one could possibly get tired of harvest gold, avocado green, and orange-red as decorating colors? We did. And James Lileks is more than happy to remind us. This sequel to his hilarious "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" had me laughing out loud yet glad no one was around to see me flinch as I saw interior desecrations that our family actually had in our home in the '70's. While there is not as much text to read as in TGORF, there is still plenty to digest. Wait, don't use the word "digest" when you see some of these nausea-inducing photos. I do think there could have been a bit more homage paid to shag carpet, homemade macrame plant hangers, and space age design, but hey, you can't have it all. The pop culture references are also priceless -- take it from someone who ate Quisp cereal every morning and had a crush on Bobby Sherman.

If you lived through, ignored, loved, hated, or merely tolerated the '70's, you have to have this book. If only to remind yourself that while beauty may be temporary and fleeting, UGLY is forever.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2004
When I was growing up in the '70's my parents eagerly awaited the annual "100 ideas for under $100" issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

My brother and sister and I knew that this meant a summer of "projects" to "update" our 125 year old home.

This book brought back memories of orange plastic contact paper on the kitchen cabinets, patchwork carpet samples on the stairwell wall, macrame plant hangers...(shudder.) The house burned down not long after we moved out. I think it was suicide.

I'm glad James Lileks has documented such crimes against taste in the current climate of 70's retro craze.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2004
Oh, the geebering Humanity! ... I forgot there were houses like these. If you've been house-hunting, a good 10% of the houses look like these-- red flocked wallpaper that leaps out at you, burnt-orange shag rug on the floor, covering the bar, doors, and one wall. Troll-hair bright-blue extra-shaggy rug in the bathroom... Lileks gathers some of the worst of the worst interior design ideas all in one book. Warning: some of the wallpaper may cause seizures; keep an inhaler handy if you're allergic to mirrored, busy, paiseley, or flocked wallpaper.

A real gem of a book, buy a second copy as you'll splurt spit onto most every page of the first copy.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Those of you who have not yet purchased the Lileks masterpiece THE GALLERY OF REGRETTABLE FOOD, hie thee to [...] and see what you're missing. Then buy the book!

With a title as screamingly funny as GALLERY, one tends to expect the sophomore effort to be a bit of a disappointment; but I'm happy to say Lileks hits this one out of the ball-park too. He brings the same first-rate production values and well-informed sneers to the era of design that really, really deserved, nay NEEDED, a smack-down.

It's a bit ironic, but for a book on appallingly bad taste, INTERIOR DESECRATIONS is actually a beautifully designed book. This one's definitely earned a spot on my bookshelf.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2004
This book had people at our family Christmas get-together absolutely helpless with laughter. Anyone who remembers the Bad 70s will love this book. It's a suitable gift for any occasion and will be the life of the party. Highly recommended -- the pictures are great, but it's Lileks' comments that take it over the top.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2005
And I gave everyone I know copies for Christmas. Everyone needs to read this book.

And by the way, if you liked this, you'll also like Daydream Houses of Los Angeles by Charles Jencks.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2004
One evening, a few years ago, a friend referred me to Mr Lileks' "Institute of Official Cheer" (a website which I highly recommend). It was there that I encountered Interior Desecrations in its original web based form. After viewing only a few pages, my wife and I were laughing so hard that we could barely move. We returned to the site to finish reading it a few days later, only to discover that Interior Desecrations was gone. I have been waiting for the book ever since. Now its here, and it was more than worth the wait.

To put it quite simply, this book makes me laugh, and when I say laugh, I don't mean chuckle, giggle or chortle. I mean that kind of deep, from the gut, tear inducing, stress relieving laugh that only a very few choice books can bring about. Its not just the pictures (though the psychedelic visual cacophony that was inflicted on homes in the 70s is funny enough in its own right), it the writing. Mr. Lileks has a gift for taking the already hilarious photos, and making them even funnier. There is one section where he describes an entryway, cowering in shame and fear as it witnesses the horrors being done to the kitchen, knowing that it will be next. When you look at the photo and see the travesties that were performed on that poor little entryway, you will laugh until breathing becomes a luxury.

By now, you have probably gathered that I am a fan of James Lileks's writing. He can be humorous, thoughtful, nostalgic and thought provoking. His daily blog ("The Bleat") is well worth your time. I high recommend all his writings. Still, even if you never read anything else he has written, buy and read this book. It won't change you life, lower your cholesterol or make your teeth whiter, but it will make you laugh and forget your troubles for a while.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2004
So there I was Christmas morning, sitting in our study reading the instructions for my son's new basketball hoop. Then I heard the shrieking. Blood-curdling shrieking, like you hear when a child is badly hurt, or some tragedy has struck. Adrenaline surged, and I ran to the family room to see my wife in tears--streaming down her face, screaming, "No, My God No! This CANNOT be True! No! No! No!" I was panicked. I was trying to replay our Christmas morning to figure out what had gone wrong--how had something possibly caused this level of emotion.

Then I realized she was screaming in laughter. She was reading The Lileks' book. The page that set her over the edge was one of the living rooms where the pattern on the sofa matched the pattern on the wallpaper, so the sofa was sort of invisible, like a chameleon. My wife got an abdominal workout laughing.

Great book. I had high hopes for the book when I bought it for my wife, and the book far surpassed them.
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The Gallery of Regrettable Food
The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks (Hardcover - September 11, 2001)

 
     

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