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Class Warfare

After witnessing too many Muffys and Duffys exiting beat-up Volvos, wearing Lacoste, and reeking of old money and afternoon G&Ts, Lisa Birnbach wrote The Official Preppy Handbook, a satire on a particular WASP subculture. The problem is that this book-long dig was also a handy field guide for those aspiring to such social stations. Straddling the humor/how-to divide, it spent 38 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list in 1980. The pink and green look never went away, although it was marginalized in the days of grunge and hipsterdom. It’s again gaining traction — behold the headbands in Gossip Girl and the sweaters over the shoulders of Vampire Weekend bandmates. But the new wave of prepsters is a different breed entirely, so Birnbach wrote a sequel, True Prep: The New Old World, with graphic designer Chip Kidd. Robert Lanham, author of The Hipster Handbook, quipped, “We need a sequel to The Official Preppy Handbook about as much as we need a sequel to Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” But if you thought poking fun at the upper class during a good economy was fun, think of the joy in ribbing its Top-Siders and seersucker while Rome burns. After all, preppy is short for preposterous. Hear from Birnbach when she reads at Books & Books.
Mon., Nov. 29, 8 p.m., 2010


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