Encyclopedia Gothica: Liisa Ladouceur Explains It All

Categories: Books

We knew that we were going to like this book from the very first page.

Ask a Goth person, "What is Goth?" and they'll likely tell you, "I'm not Goth." Which is a sure sign that they are, in fact, 666 percent Goth.

Amen, sister. As head of the prestigious and influential Gothic Council, we can tell you right now that defining what is goth and what is not goth can be an arduous task requiring painstaking research and an uncommon amount of snark. Or rather, it did. Now we can just look up the answer in the Encyclopedia Gothica.

Liisa Ladouceur delves right into the heart of the matter in her introduction, namely that what constitutes goth has grown so widely since its birth in the 1970s that most Goths take to identification by denial. Luckily, Ladouceur, like us, is an egalitarian goth who believes that any and all aspects of life that attract the black-clad masses should be included under the umbrella.

The encyclopedia is a wonder of brevity and accuracy. Subjects range from historical facts like the lives of Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathory, to modern music and actors, to fashion, and even the world of pornography, "if you're into that sort of thing," quips Ladouceur on the entry for Liz Vicious.

Humor abounds in the work, as anyone will tell you being goth is defined by a good deal of snark and bite. Ladouceur's dry, witchy style is enough to make you shoot absinthe out of your nose. You'll find yourself treating the book like some kind of quippy Choose Your Own Adventure story as you look up Azrael Abyss from the classic Saturday Night Live! segment Goth Talk and notice, what the hell, why is there an entry for Cinnabon?

Should you look up goth in the encyclopedia, it will helpfully point out that the answer can be found from pages 1 to 295, and it's pointless to seek the meaning of the secret gothic cabal. We were particularly pleased to have someone agree with us that the Sisters of Mercy's Floodland is the number one goth album of all time.

The book is quite easy on the modern crowd that tends to fall in with the goth scene, though of course Ladouceur can't resist a few barbs and condescending pats on the head. The Twilight novels are acknowledged for their significant, albeit really, really stupid, contribution to vampire pop culture.

"It's really too bad the whole thing is about abstinence. And sparkling."

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