The New Preppy Handbook

by Christopher Paul on September 14, 2010


The Awl reviews the follow up to the The Official Preppy Handbook, True Prep, and isn’t impressed.

It pains me to says this, given my admiration for the original, but we need a sequel to The Official Preppy Handbook about as much as we need a sequel to Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. It’s hard to criticize the design or the thoroughness of True Prep. But the whole misguided project, published during the harshest economic times since the thirties, leaves a foul taste in the mouth of anyone who the recalls the first incarnation with fondness.

One criticism of the book is its timing compared to current events and the events that were going on when the original was released.

When the first Preppy Handbook was released, we’d just struggled our way through two energy crises and were headed towards recession. It was the era of trickle-down economics and “Dynasty,” when people where much less cynical about the wealthy. An era when we’d yet to experience “too-big-to-fail” and the AIG bailouts. The Preppy Handbook introduced regular folk to Prepdom: a privileged, madras-filled world occupied by golden retrievers and children who called their mothers “mummy.” Of course, people always enjoy mocking the rich, but in the 80s people also wanted to emulate what they perceived to be their genteel ways. Needless to say, we live in profoundly different times.

I didn’t read the original and I probably won’t ever even though my wife has a copy. I actually don’t think I need it. But it was fun to read this guy’s account of his childhood and how he tried to be like the people portrayed in the How to Look Rich guide of the 80’s.

“True Prep”: It Is Not the Time for the Preppy New Testament – The Awl

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