Monday, November 15, 2010

More stuff white people like

In “Whiter Shades of Pale,” [Christian] Lander’s targets are more far-flung [than in his previous book, “Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions”], and it’s a treat to watch him take aim. He takes note of the industries, in addition to classical music, that survive solely on white guilt: “Penguin Classics, the S.P.C.A., free-range chicken farms, and the entire rubber bracelet market.” About the chef Anthony Bourdain’s TV show — during which Mr. Bourdain eats arcane dishes and complains about tourists — the author writes, “There hasn’t been a show this reaffirming to white people since ‘Seinfeld.’ ”

He explains sea salt’s current vogue: “When white people think about regular salt, all they can think about is sodium and poor health. When they think about sea salt they think about France.”

Many of his observations are more pointed. About picking your own fruit: “When white people harvest a crop it’s known as ‘berry picking.’ ” About flea markets: “Once again white people have taken over something that poor people used to like and made it extremely expensive.” At a “Mad Men” theme party, he says, “you can severely curtail the amount of fun by saying, ‘I’m glad this isn’t really 1960 or else I’d be serving all of you.’ ” ...

You’ll find “Whiter Shades of Pale” in that dimly understood and flimsy bookstore subdivision, the humor section. It belongs upfront, where the best new nonfiction walks point.
--Dwight Garner, NYT, on a certain brand of white person

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