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New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Gener New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today. Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee. In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist. Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com. Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?


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New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Gener New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today. Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee. In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist. Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com. Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?

30 review for Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Spitz, a music journalist and novelist, sets out to define what “twee” might mean in relation to popular culture. According to the OED, this primarily British slang word connotes “excessively affected, quaint, pretty, or sentimental” and is “chiefly derogatory.” For Spitz, twee is all about being naturally trusting, “fighting fear and hatred with kindness.” In other words, it’s about being nice. As literary examples he cites Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, Sarah Vowell, even J.D. Salinger. Th Spitz, a music journalist and novelist, sets out to define what “twee” might mean in relation to popular culture. According to the OED, this primarily British slang word connotes “excessively affected, quaint, pretty, or sentimental” and is “chiefly derogatory.” For Spitz, twee is all about being naturally trusting, “fighting fear and hatred with kindness.” In other words, it’s about being nice. As literary examples he cites Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, Sarah Vowell, even J.D. Salinger. Those first three I might deem “hipster” or “trendy” rather than twee; most of his musical examples I would call “indie” instead. I don’t feel Spitz addresses these distinctions very well. I was also confused by his choice of a chronological rather than a thematic approach. He posits a direct progression from punk to grunge to twee. Really? Anarchy to nihilism to niceness, all in the space of a few decades? He didn’t convince me. There’s also way too much about Glasgow in the book. Really rather boring! Not what I expected.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    In the sound-bite world we barely get a word out of our mouths before we get branded some one word "ist," or a practitioner of some "ism," wittingly or not, and two-way communication breaks down and the assumptions fly, projection runs rampant, and everyone runs for cover in their safe spaces and lobs molotov cocktails at random. Labeling, branding, catch-phrasing, categorizing... we instantly need some way to subdue the nasty beast that is life; it is too big and messy and mean and it makes us m In the sound-bite world we barely get a word out of our mouths before we get branded some one word "ist," or a practitioner of some "ism," wittingly or not, and two-way communication breaks down and the assumptions fly, projection runs rampant, and everyone runs for cover in their safe spaces and lobs molotov cocktails at random. Labeling, branding, catch-phrasing, categorizing... we instantly need some way to subdue the nasty beast that is life; it is too big and messy and mean and it makes us mean until we can cage it and then stab at it safely from outside the bars. Because we can't just subdue it, we have to torture and punish it, often resorting to curses so simplistic and overused that the attempts are robbed of all power. We become keyboard commandos, taking vicious jabs to validate ourselves and to say, it's not us, it's them. Take that, them! I do this. You do this. To some greater or lesser degree, we all do this. Especially in the internet age when the power is always on and the keyboard is always smiling at our baser instincts to lash-out knee-jerk style. Gone are the old gatekeeping safeguards that allowed reflection; safeguards that were admittedly the result of slower technology or no technology. Those barriers let us blow off steam before personal mass communication allowed us to do so in real-time, often to our own regret and almost always to our personal embarrassment. The internet lets us find and huddle together with intersecting circles of the like-minded; we casually traipse into and out of each of these little circles when convenient to validate our inclinations. Like wildebeests encircled by the tigers, we find safety, or at least the feeling thereof, in the crowd we inhabit, and likewise like the tigers we circle the wildebeests. The Jets are gonna have their kicks....toniiiiight! And if they holler libtard, we're readdy to miiiix! Tonight! All of the above has little do do with the book, Twee by Marc Spitz, since I pretty much wrote all of that before I was just five pages into the book. What inspired that mini-rant of mine was my own backlash, or triggering in twee parlance, against our incessant need to categorize anything or any things that might have any kind of relation, however remotely. Thus, Twee at its foundation is a book about categorizing -- about trying to identify a nebulous phenomenon that may or may not exist, that may or may have already existed since time immemorial in some form or another. Twee, or tweeness, refers to the overly precious strain in culture -- or in the retro influences or icons revered by those said to partake of the twee-verse, its artists and fans. I have seen the word "twee" going "viral' to some degree in recent years. I see it a lot in reviews on Goodreads. I've used it frequently and probably will continue to. Twee, or tweeness, is a certainly quality, a certain treacly aspect that leaves a bad taste. It makes us want to say, OK already, we get it; tone it down, I'm getting nauseous. It's the sugary sprinkles on top of the whipped cream. It says, oops, I may have gone too far in making my point. It says, "Hey duder, I have the rainbow fleece headband and the pony tail and the Nirvana t-shirt and the grass-stained cargo pants and loop-leather belt and the hacky sack and the nose ring and the latte sitting over on that rock over there. What else can I do to look bitchin'?" While reading the book I found myself eagerly gnoshing away at it in fascination then finding myself bored suddenly then finding myself mildly interested and then finding myself confused and overwhelmed by the relentless barrage of cultural references, some of which are skated over so quickly that I felt myself figuratively tripping over them; as if the contents of an overstuffed millennial teenage girl's closet avalanched on top of me after I opened the door (don't ask me why I'm nosying around, if only metaphorically, in a girl's closet). Spitz has flashes of elegance and obviously is a talented essayist, but these were like essays for the Etsy and Pinterest generation; the book is like an act of curation to the point that you want to "upvote" or "like" the three dozen disparate references whipped out on some of the denser pages. The book has the fascination of spewed day-glo vomitus; oddly hard to turn away from but not to be lingered over and certainly not to be cleaned up -- rather, to quickly be moved on from. Reflection becomes clouded and connections become increasingly hard to parse or fathom in the context of such a breathless miscellany. In fact, in tracing the currents of "Twee" culture I often felt like Spitz was engaging in a variation of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and because he seems to mention practically everything that has happened in pop culture in the last 60 years, I began to wonder if there was anything that isn't twee to some degree. In this mix, some of the connections are tenuous, some forced and some spot-on. Frankly, it became so jam-packed at times that I simply lost the train of thought or the thematic threads of it all. Spitz breaks his chronology of the twee movement into linearly ordered chapters that try to trace or pinpoint the various zeitgeists of the so-called phenomenon starting in 1945 through just past 2011. Thus, twee-ness roots itself in post-war baby boomer works like Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Plath's The Bell Jar and the films of Walt Disney (Disneyfication is a template for safe-spacing) and manifests in the various work of Zooey Deschanel and a whole lot of mumblecore and other movies and nerd-laden TV shows that I frankly haven't seen in the present millenial age. As the book makes certain connections you sometimes scratch your head while at the same time begrudgingly admiring some of the author's deft linkages. In one passage he rather brazenly links Truman Capote, James Dean and Charlie Brown as twee rebels and heroes. Sometimes in trying to make the case for twee, or to establish certain artists or things or trends as the embodiment of twee, I was not always convinced. To get to his points, Spitz often goes on at inordinate length about things that are decidedly un-Twee-ish to me, like punk rock. Artists like Kurt Cobain, Nick Drake, Morrissey and The Smiths are trotted out as twee icons, yet I simply don't think of them as such. I did, nonetheless, find his chapter that focused mostly on Cobain to be insightful and touching, at least as a stand-alone. So what are some things that embody "twee" or tweeness? The following is a mixture of some of the examples Spitz identifies and some that strike me as applicable. "Twee" is the "overly sensitive" male, the metrosexual, the love of the folky hippie dippie music of Belle and Sebastian. It is gentrification, and fair-trade goods, and coffee shops and chai tea, and goth boys, and breast-cancer ribbons, and emo rock, and popular novels with cutesy long titles that seem aimed at mostly women. It's when obsessing or hoarding is called "curating." It's adolescent girls flipping through crappy scratchy old vinyl record albums because they're cool and "sound better." It's the random, candy colored whimsy in Wes Anderson movies. It's that mealy mouthed Ira Glass on public radio. It's arguments about which bands are cool at the moment and which ones are creds or sellouts. It's John Hughes '80s Brat Pack movies with heavy handed messages. It's twenty somethings playing ukeleles or wearing waxed handlebar mustaches. Tweeness is octopus ink pizza and putting curry in everything. It's good-natured cultural appropriation. In other words, it would encompass those things that are typically decried as "trendy." "Yeah, you know the hookah bar, next to the juice bar...over in the 'hipster' 'frou-frou' part of town." It's being a rebel in a way that lets you conform and go home safely to bed without actually wielding a revolutionary sword. It's actually, whatever you want to say it is. It's probably anything that nauseates you and which you want to label accordingly. Yes, we love books like this. Any book that attempts to lasso or throw a webbed-rope net over a set or subset of culture or an even looser agglomeration of questionably related stuff and call it a "thing" must necessarily be read with a grain of salt. And, as far as I'm concerned, Spitz ascribes way too much importance to Brooklyn as a cultural epicenter, doing so more out of convenience for his theses. This is mainly just a kind of cultural name-dropping book. It's fun to just read all the pop cultural references, to see what you are familiar with and what you are not. At the same time it's fun to see if Spitz can in any coherent or reasonable way support his thesis. Or whether he thinks it is a thesis or simply an excuse for fun musing. Rather than being ball-less, Spitz cites a quotation from singer-songwriter, Morrissey, to prove the gravitas behind Twee and its strongest practitioners: "It takes guts to be gentle and kind." Spitz is definitely pro-Twee. He's not so much a cultural critic as a cheerleader, and he concludes with the notion that any movement that prods people toward kindness is a plus overall. He sees twee as a hope for humankind, a hope for kinder humans. I appreciated this as an extended essay of cultural observation. I was sort of proud of myself for knowing at least 80 percent of the references as it made its provocative historical-cultural connections. Apparently, I pass the tweeness test for arguably useless knowledge, the kind of trivia that the slothful gen-X characters boast about mastering in Noah Baumbach's 1995 indie classic Kicking and Screaming, a movie touched on in this book. Twee offers a time-capsule of where we are, at least those spheres we inhabit that exist in the cheerful utopian eddies of the messy body politic. Twee is not a revolution, as Spitz seems to suggest, and unless someone is plotting something bloodier in those coffee shops, they won't remain much more than zones of virtual reality. ----- This is book #76 read in 2016) ([email protected] 2016)

  3. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    This is barely a book about twee. There's a chapter about Belle & Sebastian, some pages about Beat Happening and K Records, and Sarah Records is more-or-less a footnote. Otherwise, it's really pop 'history' fluff about sensitive men in American and European pop culture since the 1950's. It's readable and enjoyable at times for what it is (the chapter on Nirvana was done relatively well, and I CAN get behind Kurt/Nirvana as twee), until you remember that what you're reading is supposed to be abou This is barely a book about twee. There's a chapter about Belle & Sebastian, some pages about Beat Happening and K Records, and Sarah Records is more-or-less a footnote. Otherwise, it's really pop 'history' fluff about sensitive men in American and European pop culture since the 1950's. It's readable and enjoyable at times for what it is (the chapter on Nirvana was done relatively well, and I CAN get behind Kurt/Nirvana as twee), until you remember that what you're reading is supposed to be about twee and you get mad again about how Spitz has managed to make a book about what started out as a musical genre dominated by women into a book about men like Morrissey, Wes Anderson, James Dean, Dave Eggers, Fred Armison, Zach Braff, etc. You get mad about it if you're me, anyway.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Randy Allain

    My biggest complaint about this book is that it started to tear down my illusion that I was an individual with unique & eclectic tastes and a heightened sense of morality – not chained by cultural monikers. Apparently, all this time...... I was just a Twee. In all honesty, I found this book incredibly fun and “twee” in and of itself. What I mean is, you will share my opinion of this book if and only if you have a functional passion and sense of nostalgia for at least ¾ of the artists, songs, film My biggest complaint about this book is that it started to tear down my illusion that I was an individual with unique & eclectic tastes and a heightened sense of morality – not chained by cultural monikers. Apparently, all this time...... I was just a Twee. In all honesty, I found this book incredibly fun and “twee” in and of itself. What I mean is, you will share my opinion of this book if and only if you have a functional passion and sense of nostalgia for at least ¾ of the artists, songs, films, etc featured in the text. Marc Spitz doesn't teach you about Twee culture, instead, he pieces together a grand narrative of how the “movement” came to be. If you dive into this book without prior exposure to the culture you will probably find it boring, self-righteous, and unimportant. I will confess, even as someone who loved this book, I could barely suffer the opening chapter on Brooklyn as the epicenter of everything “cool” and progressive. I had similar feelings about the epilogue, which made bad-History-Channel-documentary attempts to sell this cultural movement as a force that could make the world a better place. Luckily, everything in the middle was a lot of fun. I particularly loved the chapter titled, “The Mean Reds,” which tied mid-century icons like Walt Disney and Truman Capote to the themes of modern-day Twee culture. I also considered crying tears of joy onto the pages that described Jonathan Richman as a hero. In the end, Spitz meant well. As the back of his book says, if you are fan of “Twee touchstones past and present, including Walt Disney, James Dean, J.D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Dr. Seuss, Truman Capote, Maurice Sendak, Edward Gorey, Jean Seberg, The Kinks, Judy Blume, Nick Drake, Jonathan Richman, Beat Happening, The Smiths, They Might Be Giants, Nirvana, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, McSweeney's, mumblecore, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, Miranda July, Tavi Gevinson, Lena Dunham, Portlandia, and Zooey Deschanel,” then you would be foolish not to read this book. If less than ¾ of this representative list means something to you – you probably shouldn't waste your time with this one. For the rest of you, have fun embracing your inner Twee.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I never felt at home in a community until I found twee. I have friends amongst the punks, hackers, writers, scientists, and academics, but any gathering of modest size within any of those groups inevitably starts to get a little mean, in that critical, competitive way. People bait each other, make fun of each other for knowing too much or too little about things -- it's all in good fun, but it starts to grate on me. I want to be with people who are passionate about everything , who are thrilled I never felt at home in a community until I found twee. I have friends amongst the punks, hackers, writers, scientists, and academics, but any gathering of modest size within any of those groups inevitably starts to get a little mean, in that critical, competitive way. People bait each other, make fun of each other for knowing too much or too little about things -- it's all in good fun, but it starts to grate on me. I want to be with people who are passionate about everything , who are thrilled to introduce me to something new if they find out I don't know about it (whether it's a record or a new linguistic study), and will eagerly pick my brain about things they don't know about. This is what twee means to me -- boundless curiosity, the impulse to dig deeper into everything, learn from the people around you, and above all to be kind and understanding toward others. Marc Spitz communicates the names and sources of this spirit (it certainly shines out of his interviewees), but doesn't seem to embrace it himself. That's where the book fails for me. It reads like cold, journalistic assignment, an anthropological study of a trend, an observer standing on the sidelines trying to puzzle it out. And that's fine if you're trying to find an entry point to the 'canon' -- the works Spitz references are the mouth of a rabbit hole, with all those books and songs and movies referencing hundreds more -- but I'm worried that people will read this account and walk away from it thinking 'twee' = 'hipster.' He talks about it like it's some exclusive club where the password is some obscure Belle & Sebastian lyric, but the real password is nothing more or less than having that passionate, gentle spirit. That's all you need to fit in. If a twee kid finds out you've never heard of Belle & Sebastian, they won't mock you, their face will light up and they'll hand you a stack of records. Aside from summarizing the history (and canon) of this movement, I think Spitz is trying to make a larger point about what happens when a shy, unpretentious community is forced into the cultural spotlight. Thus the otherwise kind of baffling chapter about Nirvana. You can adopt the cool factor of the canon without internalizing the twee spirit, and that's the tragedy of its 'going mainstream,' not the fact that all these precious artifacts aren't so obscure anymore. I think most twee kids would be thrilled if everybody started listening to St. Christopher and reading Miranda July short stories, but it's a huge disappointment when you bond with somebody over one of these pieces of culture only to find out that they have no interest in digging deeper with you. This may have been Kurt Cobain's sadness, too. His new fans thought "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a cool song, but they didn't share his passion. They weren't willing to come listen to the Vaselines and Beat Happening with him. A few tinier things I supremely disliked about this book: the constant use of the phrase "Twee Tribe" (as far as I know, the only recorded use of this phrase was in a 1988 episode of Alvin & the Chipmunks... and that's where it should stay). The hyperbole where every single person is a Twee Hero or a King/Queen of Twee. The conspicuous absence of important DIY indiepop figures like Amelia Fletcher, Rose Melberg, Stephen Merritt, Amy Linton, or more recently, Kip Berman, Katie Crutchfield, and Elizabeth Morris. Overall, I just don't think music was given the same amount of attention as books and film (which I truly enjoyed)... although I understand a 338 page book can't include everything. The upcoming Popkiss: The Life and Afterlife of Sarah Records should cover that history more satisfactorily.

  6. 4 out of 5

    susie

    This book is not so much non-fiction as it is Op-Ed; it's the kind of Chuck Klosterman pop-culture theorist writing that we kind of see in the 33 1/3 series and in other forms, in print. But the book is misnamed. I was drawn into this book by its opening chapter and really appreciated the many ways in which the author thoughtfully wove through art, film and music to basically define the evolution of subculture's softer and less obvious side: underdog culture. It's not really Punk, though there's This book is not so much non-fiction as it is Op-Ed; it's the kind of Chuck Klosterman pop-culture theorist writing that we kind of see in the 33 1/3 series and in other forms, in print. But the book is misnamed. I was drawn into this book by its opening chapter and really appreciated the many ways in which the author thoughtfully wove through art, film and music to basically define the evolution of subculture's softer and less obvious side: underdog culture. It's not really Punk, though there's something punk about it. It's not always indie, though it's certainly independently minded. It's Holden Caulfield and it's Belle and Sebastian and it's Disney and apparently it's like 99% of the things that I like. But I also wouldn't say it's "Twee". "Twee", to me, connotes Gidget and The Monkees and Yogi Bear and Tullycraft (!!), not Edward Gorey and Sylvia Plath and the Sex Pistols. Underdogs, though? That's all of these things and more. Twee:Ringo as Underdog:John(?) I feel the word "twee" implies a sort of cloying, infantile sweetness rather than a smart and world-weary yearning to find the silver lining or die trying. Where the author had me underlining passages in the first half of the book feeling the impact of the lines he was drawing between cultural experiences, I felt the book derailed in later chapters, giving undue credit to specific sort of not-very-distrupting independent filmmakers rather than, say, the self-publishing culture of the internet that gave a platform to a very wide variety of creatives – for example with Vimeo: the rise of independent animation. Youtube content created by art school graduates, not the Sundance festival. Bandcamp and self-distributed music models, not The Strokes and the White Stripes. The mainstream-wide distribution of indie music had more to do with the advent of iTunes and file sharing in the college environment than existence of a band like The Strokes (or, as it's almost solely credited in the book, "Garden State"???). Etsy is mentioned throughout the book, not as an example of how the "gentle revolution" included giving young artists a platform to supplement or create their own livelihoods outside of a patron-based or hobbyist relationship – but rather as a verbal eye roll, with lines such as "If someone was marketing overpriced crocheted narwhals on [Etsy], it was [Zooey] Deschanel's fault." Portlandia is lauded as a show that celebrates underground culture's mainstreaming rather than taking "any cheap shots" – but I'd say as completely hilarious show is, it's almost entirely made of cheap shots at risk takers. Maybe it's like how patterns of abuse pass through generations, a kind of learned behavior where the bullied to continue to bully, to make jokes at the expense of others? I don't know. I say this as someone who professionally "puts a bird on it" with complete passion and sincerity for the task, and thanks to Portlandia, my life's work is frequently whittled down to this expression frat boys or those who sound like frat boys love to say to me while they giggle away. I feel like it's a more nuanced version of someone yelling "Fat ass!" It's personal with Portlandia because Fred and Carrie come from within subculture to exploit it and pretend like that's not what they're doing. Not twee. Anyway, I digress. I really enjoyed reading this book and there were so, so many times where my thinking about taste and culture were changed or made clear, where I even circled or found music and movies I want to track down and experience – but something tells me the author lost his way and lost his taste or ear or eye for subculture around the year 2000, which is really sad to see, because it's been an exciting time for those who haven't. And it made for a tone deaf ending to what was otherwise a fantastic read. At least it's capped with a great bibliography.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Danine

    As I was reading The Atlantic, I read the article about the Twee movement and Marc Spitz' book. The names Edward Gorey, Wes Anderson, and The Smith's caught my attention in the article. These names are definitive in my small existence. I knew I had to read more and I ordered the book. The book itself is twee in size. I enjoyed Spitz' way of stringing one twee element to another. It reminded me of a mixed barrel of monkeys that with care, and slight precision, are hooked and connected together to As I was reading The Atlantic, I read the article about the Twee movement and Marc Spitz' book. The names Edward Gorey, Wes Anderson, and The Smith's caught my attention in the article. These names are definitive in my small existence. I knew I had to read more and I ordered the book. The book itself is twee in size. I enjoyed Spitz' way of stringing one twee element to another. It reminded me of a mixed barrel of monkeys that with care, and slight precision, are hooked and connected together to make a line. Bands, books and people that I adored growing up and have learned about as an adult were like mixed monkeys and Spitz strung them together year by year and that ended with a DING! I love me some Tarantino but in my heart of hearts it appears that I am and have always been, Twee. The best part about this book was that Spitz not only introduced me to movies and music but also explained in reader friendly detail why these elements of pop culture would fall under the Twee category. For example, I had heard of Zooey Deshanel, but not really knowing how she fits into a beloved Twee icon. I understand now and am grateful for Spitz explaining this. The best part I love about Twee culture is how bullying is not tolerated, small business and creativity is relished, and beauty can be found in horror. It's very difficult for some people to understand the beauty in Donny Darko or Edward Gorey's work. But there are those of us who get it. You may not like certain bands, books or icon figures of Twee. The book mentions the cartoon strip Peanuts. I have never liked Charlie Brown and the gang but it is not a pre-requisite to enjoy everything else. Most importantly, though, is that Twee embraces the innocent elements of childhood and says it's ok to still love these as an adult. It's called whimsy. "In this way, White, Sendak, and Seuss become new romantic poets who all chose to look backward and celebrate childhood, nature, and individualism over herd think and scheming vulgarity and religious hypocrisy while remaining fully aware of how bloody and cruel things get out there." Yes! Some one else gets it, too! The book references Roald Dahl, Weetzie Bat, Pee-wee, James Dean, Vonenegut, Joy Division, Holden Caulfield, and Harold and the Purple Crayon. "You've got Harold, and he's just young enough to look at the world around him and say, 'Fuck this.' And he's got this crayon that enables him to draw and create whatever he imagines and it becomes real." Yes! I had a lot of favorite lines in this book but my all time favorite was: "You don't outgrow the Smiths any more than you outgrow your favorite organs. They are unrenounceable, and as long as they never reunite." How perfectly true!

  8. 5 out of 5

    vladb

    I've been waiting for years for a book on the Twee phenomenon, so understandably I was quite excited about this. This book explores the meaning of Twee as the author sees it, and briefly introduces its icons. Of course, everyone has their own opinion on who should be included in the Twee pantheon. I thought that some of Marc's choices were spot-on, and others more questionable. "Maus" has anthropomorphic animals in suits, one of the Twee style landmarks, but to call the whole work Twee is a bit I've been waiting for years for a book on the Twee phenomenon, so understandably I was quite excited about this. This book explores the meaning of Twee as the author sees it, and briefly introduces its icons. Of course, everyone has their own opinion on who should be included in the Twee pantheon. I thought that some of Marc's choices were spot-on, and others more questionable. "Maus" has anthropomorphic animals in suits, one of the Twee style landmarks, but to call the whole work Twee is a bit far-fetched. On the other hand, Maureen Tucker and Edward Gorey are important early influences who are given their dues here. My one peeve, though, is that the book doesn't go far enough in time in search of Twee roots. "Ferdinand the Bull" is a great place to start, but a late one. The Romantic period with its "Sorrows of Young Werther" and the Victorian era with its celebration of childhood as a distinct life phase, its proliferation of facial hair, its "put a bird on it" cluttered aesthetic, and its commercialization of old-timey music deserved a whole chapter, I think. Second edition, perhaps? There are other omissions: in the 20th century, Winnie The Pooh (1926) is only mentioned once. Joseph Cornell's collages and boxes are less well known, but probably as influential as Gorey's art. In any case, I'm grateful for "Twee's" release, a work on the subject was long overdue. Hopefully, others will follow.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    When I was a teenager I noticed that my tastes in music was different than my peers, when britpop died. I tended to lean towards more gentle sounding bands such as Belle and Sebastian, my fave track on The White Stripes White Blood Cells album was We are going to be Friends and did I ever play the first Aberfeldy and Hidden Cameras albums to death. Not too mention the band that changed the way I looked at music: Beat Happening Later on I gravitated towards films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Sp When I was a teenager I noticed that my tastes in music was different than my peers, when britpop died. I tended to lean towards more gentle sounding bands such as Belle and Sebastian, my fave track on The White Stripes White Blood Cells album was We are going to be Friends and did I ever play the first Aberfeldy and Hidden Cameras albums to death. Not too mention the band that changed the way I looked at music: Beat Happening Later on I gravitated towards films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind , Donnie Darko and of course The Royal Tennenbaums. Later on I realised that this type of music is called Twee and that this genre extends beyond the music and encapsulates films and fashion, a whole attitude really and Marc Spitz’s Twee explains this phenomenon in great detail. Starting from Buddy Holly and the French New Wave to Vampire Weekend and the films of Wes Anderson. It’s all told lovingly and with tons of passion, and more importantly Spitz manages to say something new about twee music, film and fashion and I learnt a few new things in the process. Unfortunately Spitz died last February and it would have been interesting to see what he thought of twee culture four years after this book was published and besides writing non fiction he was a novelist and a playwright. Twee was also the last piece of work that got published so as a legacy this book is quite a fitting one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    William

    Not bad, but a little mainstream and bland. Covers the basis, but for what purpose, really? Other than geeking out on some familiar names? Jonathan Richman got his well deserved time, but no mention of some of the more super obscure stuff I was really looking for. Hoped to expand my world, not just observe it from where I'm already sitting, you know? Not bad, but a little mainstream and bland. Covers the basis, but for what purpose, really? Other than geeking out on some familiar names? Jonathan Richman got his well deserved time, but no mention of some of the more super obscure stuff I was really looking for. Hoped to expand my world, not just observe it from where I'm already sitting, you know?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kaylyn

    I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Well, this was not exactly what I expected. I expected a fun, easy-going read that tracked a social movement from its origins to modern times. For the most part, this book did so. Prior to reading this book, I have never heard of Twee. Upon some Google searches I kind of had an idea of what Twee was: a group of people who support local artists and businesses, love the earth, and are unwilling to let go of a sense of childhood innocence. This novel basicall I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Well, this was not exactly what I expected. I expected a fun, easy-going read that tracked a social movement from its origins to modern times. For the most part, this book did so. Prior to reading this book, I have never heard of Twee. Upon some Google searches I kind of had an idea of what Twee was: a group of people who support local artists and businesses, love the earth, and are unwilling to let go of a sense of childhood innocence. This novel basically reiterates that..over and over and over and over and over. The main reason I didn't think this novel was that great is that it is poorly organized. Although I received a proof, I didn't expect the novel to jump around from music to movies to fashion to basic Twee ideas of a few years all within a few pages. Now, I like to write in my books. I underline, make notes, etc. After every chapter, I think I wrote something along the lines of "How is this book even organized????" or "Disjointed!". So if a bit of disorganization confuses or irks you, I wouldn't recommend it. However, content-wise, I think Marc Spitz sure as heck knows what he's talking about. There are pages upon pages of bibliographies and citations and Spitz was even so kind to make lists of movies, music, and literature that he classifies as Twee. I understand what this "gentle revolution" is, even though I kind of think it's a branch of the overrated "Hipster" movement/stereotype.. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with all this information but maybe it will come in handy someday. I don't think I really see a lot of Twee where I live, in suburban CT. If you want to read about Twee, pick this book up. Maybe the book will be better organized when it is released. The disjointed flow was the only thing that kept me from giving it a higher rating, really. Happy reading. :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    People like to categorize things. It's one of those things that distinguishes humans from the lower animals. Rock writers really like to categorize things. Author Marc Spitz writes books about rockers and wrote for Spin magazine. He gets this categorization thing. "Twee" is an attempt to categorize together very disparate popular personalities and media along the theme of gentleness and a child-like approach to the world. The way this is done is to drop a name of a person, movie, book, tv show, People like to categorize things. It's one of those things that distinguishes humans from the lower animals. Rock writers really like to categorize things. Author Marc Spitz writes books about rockers and wrote for Spin magazine. He gets this categorization thing. "Twee" is an attempt to categorize together very disparate popular personalities and media along the theme of gentleness and a child-like approach to the world. The way this is done is to drop a name of a person, movie, book, tv show, song, band, or fashion trend, drill down into how that relates to the topic of twee as loosely described, and moving on. If that sounds like reading a whole bunch of reviews in a rock magazine, well, that's what it felt like to me. And that's OK, that's something I enjoy. But the concept of twee is nebulous as described in this book. You can make a case for something being twee and also being not twee. For instance the band Nirvana is a topic in this book, and the case is made that they are twee, but it seems to me you could easily say the opposite -- the definitions aren't exclusive enough to really categorize things this way. I was thinking this might be a more scientific/economic book, but this isn't so much about rigor, it's about riffing on the topic. And that's OK, too. I waited a while after I finished reading this galley to write this review. I wanted to see what stuck. What did stick was a few bands and songs that I should try out, as well as an image of twee being skinny lumberjack-styled guys and pixie-like women. The lists are interesting, and that's where the books value was to me - tying together very odd combinations of songs. I'll be having fun listening to his song list to make my own connections. Overall, enjoyable much like a theme issue of a rock magazine can be. I won a copy of this book on Goodreads First Reads program.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liss Carmody

    Huh. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting out of this book: maybe an overview of a movement? Maybe something that coalesced the ideals and philosophies of what it means to be Twee? I found, as I tried to articulate these things to people who would inquire about what I was reading, that even as I worked through each chapter, I didn't feel any closer to a true understanding, or a real ability to communicate it. Twee, as described here, seems more of a referential club, an aesthetic that one Huh. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting out of this book: maybe an overview of a movement? Maybe something that coalesced the ideals and philosophies of what it means to be Twee? I found, as I tried to articulate these things to people who would inquire about what I was reading, that even as I worked through each chapter, I didn't feel any closer to a true understanding, or a real ability to communicate it. Twee, as described here, seems more of a referential club, an aesthetic that one either belongs to, or doesn't, based mostly on your ability to cite the right collection of bands, artists, films, and books. There was a ton of very specific musical history here, starting in the 60s and moving meticulously through the Punk scene with a level of detail that shouldn't be surprising coming from a music journalist, but was well over my head as a casual listener. Indeed, throughout this reading I felt most like some kind of weird cultural voyeur, reacting with interest whenever some tip of the Twee iceberg grazed across the surface of my collective pop culture familiarity. I got very excited when a movie I'd seen was discussed, and I was prompted to dig out some Belle and Sebastian albums I'd been gifted and give them a listen just to try to further my understanding. I'm not sure it worked. I'm not really sure I understand the Twee thing in any more specifics than I did upon embarking. But it was an interesting ride. I felt like it could have been better organized: each chapter ostensibly covered a certain span of years, but in reality used that as a jumping-off point to bounce around through other interrelated ideas.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Glovsky

    I'd been confused about this "movement" for some time - The sometimes lazy, often fearful, hyper-emotional misfits demanding the coddling of their helicoptered childhoods to continue well past sell-by dates, into their collective twenties and thirties. A weird skinny lumberjack beard or two later, these (wo)men-children have been, somewhat insultingly, labeled "Twee". If the shoe fits... The problem is, it fits too well. Author Marc Spitz does not even bother to come up with a label as resounding I'd been confused about this "movement" for some time - The sometimes lazy, often fearful, hyper-emotional misfits demanding the coddling of their helicoptered childhoods to continue well past sell-by dates, into their collective twenties and thirties. A weird skinny lumberjack beard or two later, these (wo)men-children have been, somewhat insultingly, labeled "Twee". If the shoe fits... The problem is, it fits too well. Author Marc Spitz does not even bother to come up with a label as resounding as "Generation X". He simply takes the dictionary definition of the word 'twee' -- summed up by Google's "excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental" (I myself would add "precious", "cloying", "cutesy", "lame", "mawkish") -- and slaps it with a giant brush across several decades and generations. Chapter after chapter of tedious name-checking does nothing to explain what happened to generations Y and beyond: Why so lazy occasionally, too often frightened, entitled and basking in "whimsy" and yesterdays? Why the emotional need for escape, and "throwback"? No answers here. Only octopus grasping, and far-reaching efforts to create a coherence -- a concise and actual "revolution" -- where, in my opinion, none truly exists.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jody Cates

    I was intrigued by this book's claim to provide an inside look at what I have only known as the "hipster" generation. I had never heard of "Twees" before I picked it up. I found much of the book to be a labored attempt to connect the dots from punk to twee and found it to read much like a dry history book - packed with names and dates and facts and events - with very little to bring life and personality into the story of a cultural movement toward caring and kindness (the author's definition of I was intrigued by this book's claim to provide an inside look at what I have only known as the "hipster" generation. I had never heard of "Twees" before I picked it up. I found much of the book to be a labored attempt to connect the dots from punk to twee and found it to read much like a dry history book - packed with names and dates and facts and events - with very little to bring life and personality into the story of a cultural movement toward caring and kindness (the author's definition of twee.) I found the book to be disorganized and the evolution posited by Spitz to be unconvincing. At the same time, it provided me with a list of indie movies, musicians, and authors that I have revisited or added to my to collection of "watch/listen/read" someday.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karla Zavala

    The essay has a lot of interesting references and connections between indie culture. It is like a good overview of the main influencers in what the author refer as "twee" revolution. However I must say I personally found a lot of opinions that could be categorized as ethnocentric, due to the words like "brooklynized", and that "it" has spread all over the world. The subtext is always somewhat "the world has followed the leader" or something like that. In my personal opinion indie culture may hav The essay has a lot of interesting references and connections between indie culture. It is like a good overview of the main influencers in what the author refer as "twee" revolution. However I must say I personally found a lot of opinions that could be categorized as ethnocentric, due to the words like "brooklynized", and that "it" has spread all over the world. The subtext is always somewhat "the world has followed the leader" or something like that. In my personal opinion indie culture may have a lot of common references such as J.D Salinger or Belle & Sebastian. But it can also, as an aesthetic, be performed in local scenes without trying to "imitate" Brooklyn scene.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Al

    An amusing survey of twee. As a fringe benefit, this book confirmed my suspicion that while I may look upon aspects of twee with a certain degree of amusement or fondness, I am very much not twee. Fun book, though. My eyebrow was raised at the idea of Kurt Cobain as being twee. Seriously?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Over emphasis on music as an influence, perhaps mixes influences with the aesthetic style itself. Doesn't really address race or class. Over emphasis on music as an influence, perhaps mixes influences with the aesthetic style itself. Doesn't really address race or class.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    I'm giving it a three for readability. Even so, I felt it was a bit of a stretch to say "The Diary of Anne Frank" was a progenitor of Twee. The chapter on Mumblecore was very good, though. I'm giving it a three for readability. Even so, I felt it was a bit of a stretch to say "The Diary of Anne Frank" was a progenitor of Twee. The chapter on Mumblecore was very good, though.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Justin Zuckerman

    I really enjoyed this book. Spitz tries to trace a general, linear history of "twee" from Walt Disney's beginnings to 2014. And that's essentially 100 years of pop-culture history fit into 300 pages, so it's going to be pretty surface-level. It doesn't so much focus on the Twee music scene of the 80s and 90s. The music segments are mainly focused on the Smiths, Belle and Sebastian, and Nirvana. I was pleasantly surprised by how much time he spent on film though, especially mumblecore. Spitz also I really enjoyed this book. Spitz tries to trace a general, linear history of "twee" from Walt Disney's beginnings to 2014. And that's essentially 100 years of pop-culture history fit into 300 pages, so it's going to be pretty surface-level. It doesn't so much focus on the Twee music scene of the 80s and 90s. The music segments are mainly focused on the Smiths, Belle and Sebastian, and Nirvana. I was pleasantly surprised by how much time he spent on film though, especially mumblecore. Spitz also predicts, at the end of the book, that it seems like the world is going to be a nicer, gentler place in the next few years but I'm not so sure if that's really the case. I was never bored reading this book and it taught me about some bands that I'm excited to check out. Overall, if you're someone who thinks Twee music and film is cool and you want to get more immersed in it, this book is worth checking out.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Thoreson

    All this time I was a member of the twee tribe but didn’t know it was even a thing. I still don’t fit in. This book, though a bit heavy handed at times (the author probably reiterated his thesis statement 18,000 times overall), helps make sense of the world as well as the terrifying realization that this IS, in fact, it. I don’t think anything in this book will help, but it will probably mitigate the pain knowing so many others are locked in their homes feeling the same thing. Actually, I do often All this time I was a member of the twee tribe but didn’t know it was even a thing. I still don’t fit in. This book, though a bit heavy handed at times (the author probably reiterated his thesis statement 18,000 times overall), helps make sense of the world as well as the terrifying realization that this IS, in fact, it. I don’t think anything in this book will help, but it will probably mitigate the pain knowing so many others are locked in their homes feeling the same thing. Actually, I do often feel better after shopping at Whole Foods, pretending I’m saving the world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Edwin

    Brooklyn NY, which is where I've lived for 42 Years, is the epicenter of "Twee". The Brooklyn Owl, a shop on Flatbush near Bergen street, epitomizes this aesthetic. It sells sparkly unicorn horns and other "twee" items for children. It's been there for a while so it must be doing well. I loved the reference in the book to "Saint Biggie of Old Brooklyn", who features in murals all over Bed-Stuy. I will refer to the Notorious One as Saint Biggie from now on. Brooklyn NY, which is where I've lived for 42 Years, is the epicenter of "Twee". The Brooklyn Owl, a shop on Flatbush near Bergen street, epitomizes this aesthetic. It sells sparkly unicorn horns and other "twee" items for children. It's been there for a while so it must be doing well. I loved the reference in the book to "Saint Biggie of Old Brooklyn", who features in murals all over Bed-Stuy. I will refer to the Notorious One as Saint Biggie from now on.

  23. 4 out of 5

    dearlittledeer

    I was really sad to find out in the midst of reading this that Marc Spitz had passed away. I have been a fan of his since How Soon is Never. RIP dude. I love that this book exists, with entire chapters on both Kurt Cobain and Belle and Sebastian. It's like it was made for me. But I guess I'm just twee 😝 I was really sad to find out in the midst of reading this that Marc Spitz had passed away. I have been a fan of his since How Soon is Never. RIP dude. I love that this book exists, with entire chapters on both Kurt Cobain and Belle and Sebastian. It's like it was made for me. But I guess I'm just twee 😝

  24. 4 out of 5

    Metalpig

    Sounded so interesting, but ended up in laundry list mode. I don't think it's too mysterious that sensitive people will seek out "something pretty" when the surrounding culture is brutal. Is it a trend? I can only effing wish. Sounded so interesting, but ended up in laundry list mode. I don't think it's too mysterious that sensitive people will seek out "something pretty" when the surrounding culture is brutal. Is it a trend? I can only effing wish.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    What's this? A book that lists on and on about "Twee" icons, like that irritating person at a party who Knows Everything. There is no analysis, very little commentary, except a Greatest Hits list of Who's Who - which I suppose is rather enjoyable (until it was not) What's this? A book that lists on and on about "Twee" icons, like that irritating person at a party who Knows Everything. There is no analysis, very little commentary, except a Greatest Hits list of Who's Who - which I suppose is rather enjoyable (until it was not)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    I feel that I have so many opinions on what makes something truly "twee" that there was no way I could fully enjoy this book. How is Nirvana twee? I suppose Nirvana is more twee than Foo Fighters, but there are so many better examples of twee music out there. I feel that I have so many opinions on what makes something truly "twee" that there was no way I could fully enjoy this book. How is Nirvana twee? I suppose Nirvana is more twee than Foo Fighters, but there are so many better examples of twee music out there.

  27. 4 out of 5

    History_and_scfi_buff

    not bad

  28. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Twee (the book) is about the rise in the U.S. (mostly) of Twee (the phenomenon). The epicenter of Twee is contemporary Brooklyn, but there are outposts in places like Austin, TX and Portland, OR. Further abroad there is Glasgow, Scotland which is rather like the Mother Ship of Twee. The Godfather of Twee would be Morrissey. The Great-Grandfather of Twee is the ever-youthful Holden Caulfield. Here is author Marc Spitz's definition of Twee: * Beauty over ugliness. * A sharp, almost incapacitating a Twee (the book) is about the rise in the U.S. (mostly) of Twee (the phenomenon). The epicenter of Twee is contemporary Brooklyn, but there are outposts in places like Austin, TX and Portland, OR. Further abroad there is Glasgow, Scotland which is rather like the Mother Ship of Twee. The Godfather of Twee would be Morrissey. The Great-Grandfather of Twee is the ever-youthful Holden Caulfield. Here is author Marc Spitz's definition of Twee: * Beauty over ugliness. * A sharp, almost incapacitating awareness of darkness, death, and cruelty, which clashes with a steadfast focus on our essential goodness. * A tether to childhood and its attendant innocence and lack of greed. * The utter dispensing with of “cool” as it’s conventionally known, often in favor of a kind of fetishization of the nerd, the geek, the dork, the virgin. * A healthy suspicion of adulthood. * An interest in sex but a wariness and shyness when it comes to the deed. * A lust for knowledge, whether it’s the sequence of an album, the supporting players in an old Hal Ashby or Robert Altman film, the lesser-known Judy Blume books, or how to grow the perfect purple, Italian, or Chinese eggplant or orange cauliflower. * The cultivation of a passion project, whether it’s a band, a zine, an Indie film, a website, or a food or clothing company. Whatever it is, in the eye of the Twee it is a force of good and something to live for. Which is all well and good and had he argued this definition in a consistent manner it would have made for a much more interesting book. Instead it focuses on the histories of certain music scenes to the exclusion of much else. He claims that to be be properly Twee, to be one of the Twee Tribe, requires much reading, that Twee Tribers spend much time alone reading the essential texts. This bibliography, though, is one that most of the people I know could get through on a beach vacation. Here's a sample of the reading list offered as an appendix: The Catcher in the Rye—J. D. Salinger Where the Wild Things Are —Maurice Sendak Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl —Anne Frank Ferdinand the Bull —Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson The Bell Jar—Sylvia Plath The Gashlycrumb Tinies—Edward Gorey Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret —Judy Blume The Nutshell Library—Maurice Sendak Charlotte’s Web —E. B. White and Garth Williams Franny and Zooey—J. D. Salinger A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius—Dave Eggers The Last Days of Disco with Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards —Whit Stillman Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close —Jonathan Safran Foer Assassination Vacation—Sarah Vowell Eloise: The Ultimate Edition —Kaye Thompson and Hilary Knight The Doubtful Guest—Edward Gorey Generation Twee isn't exactly challenging themselves with their reading. Instead, they listen to a lot of Twee music. In addition to The Smiths and Morrissey the other major musical touchstone of Twee is Belle & Sebastian. This is where Spitz really shines, and where his strongest interests are: the history of Twee music. It makes up the bulk of the book. So, if you like the likes of Belle & Sebastian and Neutral Milk Hotel and Vampire Weekend this book may be a comfort. As for myself I found much of it a little dull, and Spitz's assertions a bit laughable. My biggest guffaw came with this: It may be decades before New Girl, one of the most consistent and original sitcoms in years, gets its due. I think Spitz has a little bit of a crush of Zooey Deschanel (I do not). In the end, I find that I have a lot of common interests with the Twee set, but I'm too much an adult to ever be fully charmed by it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    david smith

    Decent, if somewhat oversimplifying. Marc Spitz attempts a history of what he posits as a dominant cultural force "Twee." Twee was originally a pejorative term for describing a sort of precious, homemade quality that music on labels in the 1980's such as Postcard, Sarah, and K possessed. Spitz gives brief histories of all these labels in the book. He also extends his purview of Important Twee Culture to movies such as Gregory's Girl and directors such as Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson, citing hi Decent, if somewhat oversimplifying. Marc Spitz attempts a history of what he posits as a dominant cultural force "Twee." Twee was originally a pejorative term for describing a sort of precious, homemade quality that music on labels in the 1980's such as Postcard, Sarah, and K possessed. Spitz gives brief histories of all these labels in the book. He also extends his purview of Important Twee Culture to movies such as Gregory's Girl and directors such as Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson, citing his own interviews and a wealth of material from other sources to give an arc of their "twee" qualities and their influence on culture. Much of the evidence linking these individual cultural artifacts to Spitz's conception of twee seems tenuous. The book sometimes feels as if Spitz had a lot of alternative culture he wanted to write about and felt the need to link each node (Mumblecore, Jonathan Richman, Nirvana) under the umbrella of Twee. That said, a decent book overall, and a good primer on certain strains of youth culture from the last 30 years. The segment where Spitz deconstructs Zooey Deschanel was worth the list price alone.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    As someone who lives in a neighborhood in Toronto where you can't swing a dead Etsy cat without hitting something sold in a mason jar, I found this an interesting concept - better than the "Twee" title though, would've been "whimsy." That's far more straightforward and relatable. (As an aside, I feel like this review should've been banged out on a typewriter to heighten the level of affectation, but I'll have to make do with modern technology). Ezra Pound's battle cry was "make it new" but there' As someone who lives in a neighborhood in Toronto where you can't swing a dead Etsy cat without hitting something sold in a mason jar, I found this an interesting concept - better than the "Twee" title though, would've been "whimsy." That's far more straightforward and relatable. (As an aside, I feel like this review should've been banged out on a typewriter to heighten the level of affectation, but I'll have to make do with modern technology). Ezra Pound's battle cry was "make it new" but there's never anything new about twee - witness train conductor mustaches and banjo-centric trios. It's a neat concept, perhaps not as fleshed out as I might've hoped; Twee is a slightly more academic take on urban millennial culture (but far less trenchant) than Christian Lander's Stuff White People Like. In this book, some of Spitz's examples are stronger than others (who would argue that Wes Anderson films aren't a near-lethal dose of quirk?) while some musical artists can't be thrown under the twee bus years hence for how they've come to be perceived (witness, Kurt Cobain)

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