Guide to cooling off – the Boston Globe

Bob Dylan is cool; Crocodiles are not. The reasons may seem obvious. Dylan is an iconic singer-songwriter, and Crocs are, at heart, glorified gardening clothes. But in the end, there is clearly a certain level of arbitrary involved. Who dictates this hierarchy and why is it important? Boston-based author Marianne Taylor tackles the ins and outs of fashion in “The Book of Cool.”

Taylor started out as a fiction writer and “after a lot of rejections” teamed up with Laurie Lindop to write “The Starving Artist’s Survival Guide”. This first foray into comedy writing inspired Taylor to go solo for “The Book of Cool”.

“The book is definitely not a guide on how to be cool because I don’t pretend to be cool at all,” says Taylor. Other books on this je ne sais quoi, such as “The Hipster Handbook,” offer advice to the reader; Taylor is a more archaeological sort of business.

Using artful illustrations, “The Book of Cool” delves into cultural trends and the powerful attraction of cool products. While the criteria for cool can seem a bit spongy at times, one thing is for sure. Being cool means not trying too hard. Dylan’s detached virtuosity against Crocs’ cheerful and colorful appeal.

“My husband is a scientist, kind of a geek type,” Taylor said. “That’s another thing that interested me in this book – how his brain is wired so differently from mine. He didn’t care about cool. He walks around with his fanny pack; he’s the first guy on the dance floor. And that makes him very cool. ”

Although she has thought deeply and in a fun way on the subject, Taylor despairs of reaching the top of the mountain on her own. “By the book’s definition, I can never be cool. I think about it too much. Like pre-ripped jeans, ” Taylor laments. Yet, against all odds, she seems pretty cool to us.

Taylor will be reading from “The Book of Cool” Wednesday at 7 pm at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline.


Beneath the veneer of the Puritan Reservation lies the darker, grittier side of Boston. Local author Dave Zeltserman’s thriller revolves around a Southie Mafia boss. It’s a nasty good read. Zeltserman is reading “Pariah” tonight at 7 o’clock at Brookline Booksmith.


Nothing like a little Polish absurdism to mix up the midweek blues. Translator Danuta Borchardt will discuss “Pornografia” by mid-century novelist Witold Gombrowicz. Take a week off from “Grey’s Anatomy” and see Borchardt speaking Thursday at the Gloucester Bookstore at 7pm. LUCY BARBIER

© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

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