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A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity

By: Whitney Otto

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The bestselling author of How to Make an American Quilt transports us to San Francisco in the early 1980s, a magical, fog-shrouded city suffused†- as are many of its denizens†- with possibility and restless energy. In A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity, Whitney Otto's characters congregate night after night at a North Beach bar called the Youki Singe Tea Room, their lives conjoined by the bonds of friendship and shared experience. At the Youki Singe, the stories of these young peoples' lives - their parties, their eccentric living situations, their passions for books and art and one another†- are recorded in one patron’s “pillow book,†her version of the intimate journals of the courtesans of Edo Japan. Meanwhile, though, the careless joys of the drifting life are giving way to a desire to find something more substantial, a need to belong to something or someone.

The title A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity is taken from a series of woodblock prints by the eighteenth-century artist Utamaro, a master at depicting Japan’s legendary Floating World, where, it is said, the patrons of the great pleasure quarters†- and their escorts†- devoted them-selves to the pursuit of music, sex, food, poetry, theater, and fashion. Now, two hundred years later and an ocean away, the young men and women of Otto’s San Francisco find themselves in their own version of a Floating World.
Illustrated with more than two dozen beautifully reproduced woodblock prints, A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity conjures an atmosphere both dreamy and contemporary. Whitney Otto engages the senses as well as the mind while exploring the intricacies, the trouble, and the rapture of human connection. ISBN:9780375505454

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Weight 445 g
Dimensions 197 × 152 × 25 mm
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ISBN 9780375505454