NAKED AT LUNCH by Mark Haskell Smith


A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World
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An open-minded writer drops his skivvies at various locations around the world in an amusing and earnest attempt to understand the appeal of nudism.

Smith (Raw: A Love Story, 2013, etc.) first entered the world of stark naked nudism to the beat of Rick James’ “Super Freak” at a Southern California resort dedicated to the nude lifestyle. Thus began a globe-trotting journey that would take him to some of the weirdest and wildest clothing-verboten resorts in the world. He relates how he hiked in the nude, sailed in the nude, and munched on croissants in the nude. However, despite the novelty and sensory overload, the author’s chief impression is one of bemused and blasé indifference. “I never would’ve thought seeing a hundred naked people around the swimming pool would be dullsville, but it is,” he writes. The situation was racier in Cap d’Agde, France. When night fell, the nature-loving denizens of the curious seaside community emerged from their apartments dressed in clothes, albeit predominately six-inch pumps, leather skirts, and fishnet undies appropriate for an evening of swinging debauchery. With solid reporting and scholarship, Smith delves into the genesis of the global nudism movement, constantly enlivening material that could have gotten stale. It turns out that the enduring American version of nudism has its origins in pre–World War II Germany, where even the powers that be had to acquiesce to its popularity among the public. Even today, the author finds that no matter how tolerant or enlightened they may have become, societies must still struggle with just how much nudity is acceptable. Is it tolerable to allow a naked man to shop for dinner at the local market? What about his rights? Smith makes you laugh and think.

A thoughtful and entertaining analysis of why so many still want to ditch their clothes and let it all hang out.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2351-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015


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