In the 1980's, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alison Lurie wrote a meditation on clothing as an expression of history, social status and individual psychology. The Language of Clothes came to be highly regarded in the literature of couture and design. Lurie has returned with The Language of Houses, a provocative and entertaining journey through the architecture of houses and buildings and the divided spaces within come to reflect the attitudes and purposes of the organizations and people who inhabit them. What makes a house is in the eye of the beholder, and the word can mean anything from church to office to domicile and more and relies on the use of materials such as stone and wood and stucco and the roles of stairs and windows, tight interiors and open expanses. Structures under scrutiny include schools, churches, government buildings, museums, prisons, hospitals, restaurants, and of course, houses and homes. Filled with literary references from Kafka to Hawthorne and charming hand-drawings by Karen Chen, Lurie’s new work is an essential and highly entertaining new contribution to the literature of buildings and architecture.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Better execution of the idea and a narrator who sounds more serious and less touchy-feely.
What was most disappointing about Alison Lurie’s story?
It was a good idea from a good writer undermined by superficial observation and stunningly careless conclusions.
How could the performance have been better?
More focused, less like a reading exercise.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Intriguing basic concept.
Any additional comments?
I expected more from this talented writer.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
This book seems to be a series of statements and assertions about buildings following one another in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, loosely organized under chapter and section headings.I kept wondering "What is the point?" The assertions are just made, not supported by argument. I kept wondering "Where did she get that from?" The narrator did well enough. I did not enjoy reading this, and overall thought it a waste of a credit.