Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What is Rachelle Bergstein reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Rachelle Bergstein, author of Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us.

Her entry begins:
I’ve been in the mood for fiction lately, a book I can get lost in. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, was a perfect choice. Russell’s language is lush – I found myself inspired by so many of her descriptions – but her depiction of female adolescence is equally powerful. Swamplandia! is a ghost story; after their mother dies, three teenage kids have to come to terms with her death. Kiwi, the oldest boy, has an aggressive reaction. He rebels, rejects his father and moves away from the family. The girls, however, turn inward. Ossie, the middle child, gets obsessed with the afterlife and starts going on “dates” with ghosts. Ava, at thirteen the youngest of the three, clings to anything she can: the past, strangers, her hope that it will all work out.

The novel has an otherworldly quality as well as a substantial conflict – the family is in danger of losing their livelihood, a theme park in the swamps where the mother, an alligator wrestler, was the star attraction – but to me it was very much about...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
What is it about a pair of shoes that so enchants women of all ages, demographics, political affiliations, and style tribes? Part social history, part fashion record, part pop-culture celebration, Women from the Ankle Down seeks to answer that question as it unfolds the story of shoes in the twentieth century.

The tale begins in the rural village of Bonito, Italy, with a visionary young shoemaker named Salvatore Ferragamo and ends in New York City with a fictional socialite and trendsetter named Carrie Bradshaw. Along the way it stops in Hollywood, where Judy Garland first slipped on her ruby slippers; New Jersey, where Nancy Sinatra heard something special in a song about boots; and the streets of Manhattan, where a transit-worker strike propelled women to step into cutting-edge athletic shoes. Fashion aficionado Rachelle Bergstein shares the stories behind these historical moments, interweaving the design innovations and social changes that gave each one its lasting significance and appeal.

Bergstein shows how the story of shoes is the story of women, told from the ankle down. Beginning with the well-heeled suffragettes in the 1910s, women have fought for greater freedom and mobility, a struggle that exploded in the 1960s with the women's liberation movement and culminated in the new millennium with our devotion to personal choice. Featuring interviews with designers, historians, and cultural experts, and a cast of real-life characters, from Marilyn Monroe to Jane Fonda, from Gwen Stefani to Manolo Blahnik, Women from the Ankle Down is a lively, compelling look at the evolution of modern women and the fashion that reflects—and has shaped—their changing lives.
Learn more about the book and author at Rachelle Bergstein's website.

Writers Read: Rachelle Bergstein.

--Marshal Zeringue