Review: United States of Americana

Dear Constant Reader,

What does today’s book have to do with burlesque? Take a look at the full title.

United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, and Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement by Kurt B. Reighley and Aaron Bagley (2010).

There are many people in America seeking a return to a time past, when things made by hand were quality and had value. It’s not a nostalgia movement, pining for things that once were, but a new appreciation of craftsmanship.

This “field guide” highlights old-school products that are still made as well as new ones in the same vein. It showcases back-to-basics endeavors like chicken raising, straight-razor shaving, classic bartending, &c. The music section stands out as being a somewhat different format from the rest and clearly the author’s passion. Most of the focus is on the Pacific Northwest, the author’s home.

So, what about burlesque? The last section is on entertainment: burlesque and circus. It’s focused on the burlesque revival in Seattle with a little bit about New York. There’s some history as well. There’s a little overlap between the burlesque and circus sections, but it boils down to about 10 pages specifically on burlesque.

I can’t recommend this as a burlesque book — the percentage of information specifically on burlesque is too low. It’s not a bad book if you’re also interested in such eclectic topics as styling a mustache, buying a bespoke suit, and home canning. If you just want to learn about the burlesque revival, try Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind instead.

P.S. Just a reminder… We’ve been nominated for “Best Burlesque” by the Weekly Dig. Please vote for us!

Published in: on 26 October 2011 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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