HOW TO HAVE A LIFE-STYLE by Quentin Crisp

HOW TO HAVE A LIFE-STYLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

No, despite the introductory come-on (""If I, who am nobody, have been allowed to visit so many of the great cities of the world with my fare paid, then anyone can do it""), this is not a how-to manual; London's campy Mr. Crisp (The Naked Civil Servant) has only the sketchiest specific advice for those would-be non-conformists who'd like to ""polish their techniques of self-presentation."" (He does advocate elocution lessons, living alone, and infinite narcissism.) What, then, does this rambling pamphlet (published in England in 1975) contain? Crisp's aphorism-studded opinions on TV, movies, rebellious youth, the permissive society, pornography, fashion, and such: harmless and rather dated, often tedious stuff--except for a couple of offensively flip remarks dismissing the reality of rape, both homosexual and hetero. (""These arch fears of violation no longer exist."") Plus--Crisp's anecdotal tributes to an assortment of stylish stand-outs: Gertrude Stein, Gracie Fields, Hemingway (his suicide ""represents a triumph of style over life""), Tallulah Bankhead, Eva Peron (""The greatest political stylist the world has ever known""), Enoch Powell, Joan Crawford, Norman Mailer (""defeat"" as style), Genet (""degradation"" as style), and perhaps even Gilles de Rais, who raped and murdered 140 boys. (""Numbers are not style but it's difficult not to be impressed."") When Crisp delivers this trivia in live lectures, his own bizarrely valiant persona apparently provides comic timing and some sort of emotional ballast; on the page it's all desperately outr‚ and rather sad.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Methuen