Tim Gunn (with Ada Calhoun): Gunn’s Golden Rules

I’m probably waaay over thinking my reaction to Gunn’s Golden Rules. I was entertained and amused, even a little bit edified. But it still strikes me as an odd, even inconsistent book.

Presumably the draw for most fans of Project Runway‘s congenial but incisive mentor figure Tim Gunn (certainly for me) is the promise of some juicy insider chat, which Gunn delivers a good bit of. You might hope for Gunn to dish about fashion world figures like Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley (yes), assorted Project Runway contestants (yes), Parsons (oh my, yes, that bridge is burnt), and Heidi, Micheal, and Nina (not a chance).

But Gunn is, I think, too sincerely principled to want to produce a gossip-centric volume, and what results is a peculiar mish-mash of gossip, memoir, and Gunn’s (as the subtitle puts it) “[Life’s] Little Lessons for Making It Work.” Gunn’s guidelines are reasonable, pithily expressed and ably supported (his suggestions for giving design critiques are particularly useful). There’s nothing holier-than-thou about it, either; Gunn is not all reticent about criticizing himself. But the general tone of the volume is distinctly anti-snark, so there’s a slight tension between the book’s message and its contents. At times I almost felt like there was an implicit quid pro quo: eat your healthy precepts, then you can have your catty gossip.

My vague unease with the book was exacerbated by the absence (largely) of Gunn’s distinctive voice. Project Runway‘s editors leave in many instances of Gunn’s vivid and precise vocabulary (he’s a use-exactly-the-right-word kind of guy), and my ideal of a Tim Gunn book would send the less erudite portion of the readership scurrying for a dictionary at least a few times. But Calhoun (I suspect) has largely excised Gunn’s most flavorful language. On page 74 I found a glimmer of what I felt was lacking (“Every corpuscle of every society in the history of this globe has religion at its core!” I brayed at him.), but moments like those are thin on the ground throughout.

Warning: from time to time you may be overcome by a strong desire to give Tim Gunn a hug and say, “there, there.”

needs more demons? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe needs a less assertive editorial/co-authorial hand.

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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