Books: Exposing Secrets of the Closet

THE LANGUAGE OF CLOTHES by Alison Lurie Random House; 273 pages; $20

In the age of electronic babble and self-actualization, people sometimes fall silent. Their clothes, on the other hand, never shut up. In her first work of nonfiction, Novelist Alison Lurie contends that clothing even has a complete grammar, a complex syntax and a large vocabulary. The accent, however, is rarely standard English. In Lurie's view, our apparel often speaks in the spicy euphemisms of a stand-up comic or trumpets the dim promises of a politician. The author has previously parodied social—and sexual—intercourse in her novels (The War...

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