Lockdown Literature And Lounging Tips

Easter took an unexpected turn when Anna Wintour posted a picture on Instagram in which she is wearing sweatpants while working from home. I should probably just leave it right here and let you collectively recompose yourselves offline, because it’s the end of the world as we know it.

I don’t frankly know how we are supposed to build the post-pandemic world anew after this sartorial bombshell. But be as it may, dear reader, as far as chic lockdown loungewear goes, everything is fair game. All bets are off as from now.
This cannot bring anything good to the humankind, this much I know already. Athleisure could not have gotten a more prestigious stamp of approval if the Queen herself had worn the “Holy Spirit” -sweater from Kanye West’s Yeezy -collection for her special Easter address to the nation.

(I still secretly hope that the picture is photoshopped. Seeing Wintour in sweatpants shook my whole belief-system to the very core – I was not expecting an Easter miracle of this kind. Points for the sunglasses, though.)

At least I can count on Fran Lebowitz, the patron saint of staying at home, to keep some basic standard of style while holed up in her New York apartment. She gave an interview to the New Yorker on how she’s coping, and herewith the best insights:

The plus-side of the pandemic: the idiotic trend of sharing food at restaurants
will finally go away
I’ve always washed my hands, I would say, a minimum of a hundred times a day. I won’t share food. If you go to a restaurant with a bunch of people in their twenties, they just order a bunch of food. I won’t do this. I always announce, “I don’t share food.” Everyone thinks this is an incredible eccentricity, but the fact is, if you put your chopsticks in my plate, the plate is yours.

What has changed in practical terms:
Having to have food in the house. This is something I just can’t stand. I hate to cook. I find it incredibly tedious. Last night, I was peeling a cucumber and I was infuriated. Like, why am I peeling this cucumber? Why am I not in a restaurant, where they know how to peel a cucumber, and where I’m not doing it? So the eating at home I find horrible.

On the pressure to be creative given that Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine for the bubonic plague:
Other people have tried to put that pressure on me. For instance, I’ve already read and heard this thing about Shakespeare fifty times. I’ve heard it from writers, and I’ve had to point out to them, “You are not Shakespeare.” I am very lazy, and you might think it is very good for lazy people. But it’s enforced, and, if there’s one thing I have always hated, it’s being told what to do.


Finally, a couple of recommendations for lockdown literature, grouped in two themes:

1. Women who struggle with substance addiction and/or mental breakdown and are consequently admitted to a mental institution and/or rehab respectively.

Carrie Fisher: Postcards From the Edge
Binnie Kirschenbaum: Rabbits for Food.

Both are extremely funny, well written and entertaining. Fisher “Princess Leia’s” book is set in Hollywood, Kirshenbaum’s in New York City. In case you have a preference.

2. Books that offer literary escapism to bright lights and big cities, just in case we’ll never be allowed to travel again:

Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott: Swan Song
Lauren Elkin: Flâneuse

Swan Song is set in the 70s Manhattan, where Truman Capote reigns supreme and entertains his Swans, a group of beautiful, wealthy and well-connected young women whom he shares gossip and intrigue for years, just to betray them in his book “In Cold Blood“. A superbly researched remix of facts and fiction.
Best for when you’ve finished your Sex and the City box-set but want to hang on to the feeling.

Flâneuse is a beautiful study about the history and presence of women walking in cities. It is firmly non-fiction, but with a light, whimsical touch. Elkin walks with us in New York, Paris, London, Venice and Tokyo. And she also just so happens to share what I thought was my dream existence:

I would live in an apartment, and not a house. A musty book-filled one on Riverside Drive, or West End Avenue, in the kind of building with an awning that extended out onto the sidewalk. I didn’t much care about the doorman, but I wanted the awning. And I would have built-in bookshelves, and Turkish rugs, and my psychoanalyst friends would come over and we would drink lapsang souchong while talking about the books we were writing and the affairs we were pursuing.

In the black and white picture you will see loungewear from 1950s Finland, as modelled by my late grandmother. She’s casually reposing outside, concentrating on her reading, wearing a light woollen dress and a scarf tied in her hair. Like Anna Wintour, she also has sunglasses on, but was likely not to wear hers indoors. Nor a pair of sweatpants, come to think of it.

We can observe some lounging necessities about her, such as a cigarette pack and binoculars. Dear reader, the binoculars were not there for my grandmother to observe the flora and fauna.
Finns were big fans of self-distancing already in the 50s, and we’ve always kept binoculars about us whenever we go out in pairs or in small groups so as not to lose our friends.

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