Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review: The Quintessential Gentleman by Henry Russell

Bonus review this week, since Mini Book Expo and Ulysses Press were kind enough to send it to me and I'm not sure if the review is overdue or not. I hope not, obviously, and I don't think it is.

Anyway, I read a lot of books about style and etiquette. I take none of the advice and follow none of the rules, but I find it very interesting and great research for the writing of certain stylish and mannerly characters. The Quintessential Gentleman is honestly one of the better ones I've read, because it's both funny and useful. If you can't read the type on the picture, it says "The Quintessential Gentleman: An Ironic, Sometimes Irreverent Guide to 21st-Century Manners by Henry Russell, Elegant Englishman."

This book was published in 2006, and it's suitably modern. It doesn't stress rules, since most people expect you to be flexible anyway, but instead shows appropriate attitudes to have and/or things to say in a huge variety of situations. The One Great Rule of stylebooks is, in my experience, that being a gentleman consists of being considerate to the needs of others and that little else is necessary.

Henry Russell is very funny in his candid, realistic approach. He doesn't focus on the usual round of what cut of suit to wear and which fork to use, but instead presents a few paragraphs on each topic and sub-topic, including but not limited to what to say at a bar mitzvah, what to write in a thank-you note, and how to get rid of boring people who want to talk to you. It's not so much a plan of action as a guide to strategy.

This book is slightly smaller than a dvd case and just under 200 pages, a very quick read that gets the job done. Some others I recommend are Freakin' Fabulous by Clinton Kelly, and anything by John Bridges.
Buy The Quintessential Gentleman

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