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Interior Desecrations: Hideous Homes from the Horrible ’70s

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There is some amount of pleasure in being too little to truly remember the 70s. Sure, I was eight when the decade came to an end, but I was young and naive. The 80s were like totally my generation.

Then, a book like Interior Desecrations by James Lileks comes along, and spoils it for all of us.

Interior Desecrations is a collection, a vile and hideous collection, of all that was wrong and evil in home design from a decade that brought us avocado green shag carpets and goldenrod “yellow” kitchen appliances. It is an eye-opener of epic proportions. But, much like staring into the sun, if you don’t look away at some point, you will suffer permanent damage.

Room descriptions in this book are a thing of beauty:

  • It’s a difficult effect to achieve: take several sets of fresh cow lungs, stuff them with explosives, light the fuse, and shut the door.
  • Perhaps there’s such a thing as “room karma.” If something horrible has happened in a space, the room must suffer along with those who perpetrated the evil.

If you have a sense of taste, you might want to avoid this book. I fear that between the covers is a taste-black-hole. Nothing that is good and wholesome can escape its clutches. Everything you know will be replaced with plaid, shag, and reflective wall papers.

However, if you, like me, have a morbid fascination with all things grotesque then you will enjoy this book like a good car accident. You can’t look away, you dirty voyeur.

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  • Anne

    I turned five in 1979, so I don’t have many memories of the 70’s either. What I do know is from pictures as well. The 70’s were a stunningly ugly decade in so many ways, from interior design to clothing to music. For instance, I remember the program for the 1979 Ice Capades all too clearly–and my grandfather reverse parking his Monte Carlo. 😐

  • Fun, well written review, Roger. I need to look out for this book!

    This book review has been selected for Advance.net. You’ll be able to find this and other Blog Critics reviews at such places at Cleveland.com’s Book Reviews column.

  • mary

    this book was soooooo funny. I was not not yet born in the seventies. but, I can tell that this was a dificult and depressing time of the style- demented. happy times for the blind though…

  • Nancy

    I’m old enough to remember them sorta; style-wise, they were almost as ugly as the 50’s – which really were unparalleled, IMO.