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Friday, 3 February 2012

Encyclopedia Gothica

(c) Liisa Ladouceur, used with permission
One of my Christmas presents in 2011 was this delightful new book by multi-talented writer and authoress Liisa Ladouceur, the Encyclopedia Gothica. It wasn't entirely a surprise as I had been leaving sneaky post-it notes on the desktop, but what did come as a surprise was the beautiful presentation of the book itself. Obviously I'm going to approve of any cover design including swirls, skulls and bats, but the edges of the pages have been distressed to give it a beautifully worn, almost antiqued appearance, and each chapter is beautifully illustrated with sketches of bands, Goth scene staples (deathhawks and fangs) and even drawings of some Gothy festival-goers whom I recognised from their photos on the web (all illustrations by Gary Pullin).

What sets Encyclopedia Gothica apart from other Goth-related tomes like my own favourite Gothic Charm School and the exceedingly handy Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick is its format; this is, quite literally, an encyclopedia of all things dark and spookyful, which is why it should take up its rightful place on the bookshelf amidst the above-mentioned volumes.

Liisa, after a brief sojourn to explain to the unwary reader 'what is Goth?' in time-honoured fashion, introduces her book thusly, "It contains over 600 words and phrases used by Goths, covering what we listen to, watch and read; what we wear; where we hang out; what we talk about and much more, including more than 200 entries on influential Goth artists and personalities."

This is the ultimate A-Z of Goth, a veritable dictionary-and-subcultural-guide all in one, ideal for the flailing newbie wondering what on earth a 'retail slut' might be or why on earth a ferret might be dancing. Of course those of you who have spent more time in the scene will certainly find it an amusing diversion; there's nothing better than a good in-joke or much-loved cliche, and Encyclopedia Gothica is full of them, written with that particular brand of snarky dark humour that will be familiar to readers of Voltaire's What Is Goth?

The Encyclopedia also contains a handy bucket list for spooky travellers; '13 Goth places to see before you die (or afterwards)', which you could probably use to plan your next summer holiday.

At the back of the Encyclopedia is a two-page spread of the Goth Band Family Tree. I cannot imagine how many hours went into the creation of this beautiful monster, but it covers everything from punk to New Romantic to EBM to Gothic metal and of course all the classic Batcave, post-punk, darkwave, deathrock and Goth rock as well - to name but a few branches on this particular tree. You can actually view the Goth Band Family Tree online, here, with links to band webpages and videos too. Here's a sampler to whet your appetite:
(c) Liisa Ladouceur, used with permission
Overall, Encyclopedia Gothica is a warm, witty and concise guide to dark culture, and one which I will dip into with pleasure (oo-er) again and again. Top marks!

10 comments:

Nightwind said...

While I don't have the book, I did look at the Goth Band Family Tree. Nice! I was glad to see the Fields of the Nephilim listed. They're probably my favorite Goth Rock band. I'm glad to see that they still occasionally do concerts. I'd love to see them come here to the States.

Chloris said...

I think I shall buy this and justify it as an educational expense!

Dark Fantomzy said...

I am definitely adding this book to my "To-buy" list.

LucretiaLevi said...

This sounds very interessting, looks like I too have to add another book to my "to buy" list!

Dalestair Kidd said...

I love the Gothic Charm School blog and I've noticed the "Goth Bible" mentioned on other blogs - I think I'm going to have to purchase all 3 of these books.

As for the books by Voltaire, anyone know where I can get them - I've been looking, but finding them is difficult.

Cool post Amy!

ultimategothguide said...

Thanks Dalestair :-) I got my copy of Voltaire's book (I only have What is Goth?) on Amazon. I'm sure you would have checked there though!

Daniel_8964 said...

Interesting review, Amy. I'll probably buy this awesome book via iBooks on my iPad and iPhone in the future after seeing this. ^,..,^

Maeam said...

I want this...SO BADLY...

Darling Violetta said...

The author of this book did an interview with Bookends TV on Youtube. Here's the link. The interview really peaked my interest. I think I will buy the book when I can. :)

akumaxkami said...

Wow, sounds like something I might want to have on hand!

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