April 5, 2010

Preppy Handbook redux in 3-D?

Via Gawker comes this news that the editor and co-author of The Official Preppy Handbook is set to release a sequel, called True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World, in September 2010. The original came out in 1980 and sold around 1.3 million copies. One of those copies belonged to me, and I treated it as if it were The Bible. Suffice it to say, I took that sh*t fairly seriously.

For the uninitiated or unfamiliar, here's the Wikipedia entry:

The Official Preppy Handbook (1980) is a tongue-in-cheek humor reference guide co-written and edited by Lisa Birnbach. It describes an aspect of North American culture she styles as prepdom. In addition to insights on prep school and university life at socially acceptable schools, it illuminates many aspects of upper-class, old money WASP society. Topics range from appropriate clothing for various social events to how to choose the correct college and major. While the book addresses "preppy" life from birth to old age, its coverage is in the greatest depth for the school, college, and young-adult years; coverage becomes thinner for subsequent stages of life.

It may have been considered "tongue-in-cheek," but I knew people like the ones parodied on the pages of The Official Preppy Handbook. I had a good friend who was from Massachusetts (Boston), my best friend ended up being sent to Phillips Exeter Academy (like Holden and J.D. Salinger), and two buddies went to Harvard (others to Rice, Cornell, and U.V.A.). I ended up at U.T., pledging the Animal House frat my first semseter (Fall '85). I knew guys who wore clothes like this:

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

EBiN on floor in the center, yellow tie, probably a little bit drunk, mid-'80s

How interesting it is a sequel to The Official Preppy Handbook is set to be released the exact same year of J.D. Salinger's death - I have both of them sort of intertwined in my mind. Holden Caufield was the ideal "prep," a fact I seem to remember him being mentioned on at least one of the pages in Handbook. And I might not have been so keen to read The Catcher in the Rye at all had it not been mentioned so frequently (as far as my memory recalls) on the pages of The Official Preppy Handbook. So I can at least say that about it. I read the book for the first time that 8th grade school year, at a very impressionable time. In fact, the Handbook and the movie Animal House were the basis for my world view for a long, long, long, long time. Longer than I care to admit, publicly. Long. Not now though. Not too much. Well, maybe a little bit.


Retro Hound said...

How interesting that Retrospace has a post on cliques today. I was most definently NOT a preppy.

Chris said...

Cool - we have a bit of synchronicity going on today then. Ha, ha - I was more of a wannabe. How pathetic is that?

Claudia said...

You know I had to look at this picture again. I never even knew this book existed. Of course my smart ass comment would be...white people while shaking head, tsk tsk. Just kidding,but I want to read that book now.

Chris said...

Ha, ha. Yep, first kiss.

No, I think you are supposed to laugh and point at the foolish white people in this case. The book was sort of a parody of WASP society.