NOUVEAUMANIA: The American Passion for Novelty and How It Led Us Astray by Truman E. Moore

NOUVEAUMANIA: The American Passion for Novelty and How It Led Us Astray

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Moore writes a kind of soft-core sociology made up of personal observations and readings of America's cultural bric-a-brac, national idiosyncrasies and dubious inheritance from our colonial/frontier past. Previously he has written books on traveling salesmen and migrant workers; his leitmotif here is movement and change--""the American impulse to grab the latest thing,"" discarding last year's model, equating old with worn out and passe. Growing up during the boom of the 1950's he watched his hometown cover itself ""with asphalt, plastic, neon and the postwar spirit."" Consumerism took hold with a vengeance and families lived to buy the new TV set, the improved dishwasher, the newest car. In the process ""paving over, bulldozing, dispersing"" became signs of Progress and the sense of impermanence which, Moore argues, has characterized American life since colonial days, was heightened by fast-food franchises, annual shifts in women's fashions, mobile homes, ""open marriages"" and ""new"" lifestyles. The dementia has gone so far that gift catalogues advertise--and sell--canary diapers and mink-covered toilet seats. As a yardstick for analyzing our society, ""nouveaumania"" seems rather flimsy--what about the current fetish for ""antiques""?--but Moore's peregrinations among the Burger Kings and Levittown houses is at least mildly entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1975
Publisher: Random House