The Barbie Chronicles

To some she’s a collectible, to others she’s trash. In The Barbie Chronicles, twenty-three writers join together to scrutinize Barbie’s forty years of hateful, lovely disastrous, glorious influence on us all. No other tiny shoulders have ever, had to carry the weight of such affection and derision and no other book has ever paid this notorious little place of plastic her due. Whether you adore her or abhor her, The Barbie Chronicles will have you looking at her in ways you never imagined.

Click to read an excerpt from the book

Praise for The Barbie Chronicles:

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The pieces in this book, so rich in insight and wit, mean so much—to cultural and political studies, to the life of the mind, to those who have given thought or attention to this strange and strangely alluring figure which, despite her initial docility, refuses to remain seated on anyone’s shelf.
Hilton Als, Staff Writer, The New Yorker



From Publishers Weekly:

Since her birth at the hands of Ruth and Elliot Handler in 1959, Barbie has been decried for her bad influence on girls’ self-esteem and become the object of praise for her ability to elevate girls’ play beyond baby dolls and kitchen sets. Though she’s only a molded hunk of plastic, Barbie has wielded a curious amount of power over the last 40 years. McDonough (Tying the Knot) attempts to present differing points of view about Barbie, but the overall tone is one of admiration, even from the doll’s critics. Anna Quindlen wistfully imagines driving a silver lam? stake between Barbie’s perfect breasts, while Ann duCille discusses issues of race and conformity, positioning Barbie at the center of what’s wrong with the doll section of toy stores. Other essayists strike a gentler tone: Jane Smiley, Erica Jong, Carol Shields and Steve Dubin see the dark side of what the doll could represent to young girls, but recapture the original, guilty delight they felt when posing, defacing and, predominantly, undressing her. This well-chosen group of writers artfully explores the world that created Barbie, the childhood selves the authors remember and the meaning behind one of our era’s most controversial pieces of plastic.

From Library Journal:

No longer just a child’s plaything, “Barbie has become an icon and a fetish to some angelic, to others depraved.” In honor of Barbie’s 40th birthday, McDonough has collected 20 stories and five poems in one volume: Steven Dubins’s essay on Barbie’s origins as a German pornographic doll; Jane Smiley on Barbie’s “genius,” which took girls from big hairdos and pink jeans to women’s self-knowledge and rights; Anna Quindlen on her desire to “drive a stake through Barbie’s plastic heart”; and a lots of essays with priceless titles (“Barbie Does Yom Kippor” and “Sex and the Single Doll”). Speaking largely to today’s 30- to 45-year-olds, the varying intellectual and emotional perspectives here make for an engaging blend of idiosyncratic remarks and in-depth social commentary.