THE HOUSES WE BUILD by Lisl Weil

THE HOUSES WE BUILD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Weil starts out talking about one's own house being special and about dream houses as self expression; and she ends on the same note, about houses reflecting ""our hopes, our dreams, our lives."" However, what presents itself as an essay on houses-and-people turns out to be a straight history of architecture. In 64 picture-book pages, this necessarily involves some dubious statements (such as a reference to cave paintings as home beautification), several pre-digested capsule pronouncements that are mere tags without a wider context (Greek buildings were beautiful, Roman buildings sturdy and powerful), and several crammed lists of terms and styles reduced to labels. (One paragraph toward the end covers three styles--""the sensitive expressionistic,"" Bauhaus, the art deco--in one sentence, then launches into Habitat: the five illustrations on that page include the Guggenheim museum and a Los Angeles eatery in the form of a derby.) Offsetting this data overload, however, is Well's inviting, lighthearted drawing style. There's a touch of humor in her buildings; and if the breezy human figures she puts in and around them don't cast any light on the architecture as a reflection of lifestyle, they do liven up the pages. Her prose style, too, is comfortably easygoing, which makes the whole introduction as pleasantly accessible an overview as the survey approach permits.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1985
Publisher: Atheneum