From the get-go with an eye-catching cover illustration of a vintage trailer parked and bedecked with colorful Christmas lights and a wisecracking dedication ("For my great-nieces Jenna, Julia, and Sarah -- hint hint"), Charlotte Hays' new book takes you on a hilarious ride of culture clashes, sarcasm and trash-talking 20th century history.
Chapter after chapter, Ms. Hays' timely When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? lays out a case for why the lifestyle begs to be validated. The author even includes "A White Trash Timeline," Bibliography and Index. Ms. Hays, who is white, spells out the culture, addressing topics with chapters such as "Why Obesity, Tattoos, and Velveeta® Cheese Prove that Arnold Toynbee Was Right", "White Trash Money Management," "Who's Your Daddy?" and "Bratz® and Brats." There's also a chapter called "White Trash Buddhists."
Pithy thoughts and fact-filled zingers await the reader. Page after page I learned something new about the culture. The timeline begins in 1936, marking the first Tampax print advertisement (wait til you read the relevance), and continues through the millennium. Ms. Hays charts Peyton Place's 1956 record-breaking New York Times bestselling standing, the Marilyn Monroe 1962 Happy Birthday rendering to JFK, Cher's 1969 public announcement of her breast implants and Gov. Ronald Reagan's '69 signing of the California no-fault divorce bill, to name only a few entries.
My favorite comes from 1970: "In an act of desperation, President Richard Milhous Nixon welcomes Elvis Presley to the White House, hoping that associating with the king of rock 'n' roll will make him popular with young people. Nixon grants Presley the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge that he covets...and the rest is history." From Jerry Springer and Princess Diana in late 20th century to Sir Mick Jagger and Kim Kardashian in the millennium, Ms. Hays appears to leave no worthy subject or incident out of the growing social circle that continues to prosper.
My only regret here is that I purchased the book for my Kindle instead of (a hard copy) for the coffee table.