"The Vanishing American Outhouse" by Ronald S. Barlow...

Editor's Choice

April 02, 2000|By Michael Pakenham

"The Vanishing American Outhouse" by Ronald S. Barlow (Viking, 144 pages, $19.95)

This is one of those pastiche volumes that, if you have enough space, is grand to have around for the sake of a long, miserably wet, cold weekend afternoon. If the idea is repugnant, forget it; but bear in mind that the era of outdoor plumbing (to use but one fond euphemism) was one of an excess of politesse. So, there is little to shock here, except perhaps the vastness of the proliferation of joke postcards about outhouses. The text is accessible but seriously historical, the illustrations entertaining, often charming, and sometimes astonishing. A modest delight.

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