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Jewelry Talks

A Novel Thesis

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Campy, bitchy, outrageous, and quite a bit more than over the top, Abby Zinzo describes himself as “a cross between Auntie Mame and Louis the Sun King.” Abby has lived a life dedicated to pleasure, and nothing has given him more pleasure than owning, wearing, or merely contemplating the lustrous objects with which women and men have always adorned themselves.

In this sexy, funny book that is part novel and part thesis on jewelry, Abby sits down to record everything he has learned over a lifetime, planning to leave this story along with his collection of valuable stones to his beloved niece, Zeem. He recounts the history of famous gems–like the fabulous Koh-i-Noor and the brilliant blue Hope diamond–and regales us with naughty tales of the women who made the beautiful jewelry their own, including Coco Chanel, the Duchess of Windsor, and Elizabeth Taylor. He also narrates his own sensational life, from Harvard undergraduate to dancer in a notorious Paris drag cabaret to his twilight as a man for whom gender is just another glittering ornament. Sharp, fascinating, and sparkling with its own inner fire, Jewelry Talks is precious gem in and of itself.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 09, 2001 – Klein, a literary critic best known for his audacious deconstruction of the popular mythology surrounding cigarette smoking (Cigarettes Are Sublime), offers an equally provocative first novel. The work, written in the hybrid style of a letter and a treatise, and devoid of dialogue, carries an "introduction" by its narrator, Abby Zinzo, who calls it both "a novel thesis" and "an anti-memoir." Abby inhabits the transgendered world where one's sex is almost mathematically calculated as the sum of one's fetishes. Officially, he's a "TransGendered-Bisexual-fully-Cross-Dressed-TransVestite-woman." At Harvard, Abby started a thesis about Diderot's famous pornographic classic, Les Bijoux indiscrets—which can be translated as The Talking Jewels. In Diderot's case, jewels were a metaphor for female genitalia. Abby takes Diderot's metaphor seriously, entwining a discussion of the polymorphously perverse around the history of brooches, rings and other opulent ornaments. These objects have genealogies, and Klein is most interesting when summing up the adventures of some famous diamond or diamond hunter; as a lagniappe, the text caries photos of famous jewels and fashion icons. The third braid in Abby's story consists of his record of his affair with an Algerian immigrant, Amad, a "boyfriend from hell... rich, ugly, and female." A child called Zeem was born to the coupling of this alternating current of a couple, and given to Abby's sister, Zanzibar, to raise. Though genuinely clever and imaginative, the work doesn't fit conventional notions of a novel. While Klein attempts a lightness of tone, it's hedged by nervous pedantry. Moreover, his discussion of the dialectic between femininity and jewelry is flawed by his relentless focus on a restricted set of fashionable, rich women, which unconsciously leads him into unjustified and even absurd generalizations about the entire sex.
Jewelry Talks
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jun 26, 2001
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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