Simon Doonan’s latest book, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, is clearly not interested in truth. Like his 2008 lifestyle book, Eccentric Glamour, it purveys a type of fabu-wisdom—a twinkly, floral-printed, and meticulously cataloged understanding of the world, where gay men are French women with penises (his words), straight men are burpy and totally yuck, and even food is either homo or hetero (Italian entrees, straight; Italian desserts, gay). Then again, when he sports his life-coach hat, the former creative director at Barneys New York takes liberties. “I believe in hyperbole, I believe in exaggeration,” he says in a recent interview. “Only an idiot would read [Gay Men Don’t Get Fat] thinking they were getting Wikipedia or something.” (Indeed, there is only one proper way to read Doonanisms like “it needs to be emphasized that prostitution is horribly drafty.”) But without his straight-faced, British-accented delivery, this guide to living fabulously reads shrilly and nerve-numbingly, like a campy drag show that careens on far too long. (One of his few earnest moments—a handful of paragraphs describing his time decorating the White House for Christmas in 2009—is preceded by a warning.) It seems that Doonan, a small man himself, is best enjoyed as an hors d’oeuvre: Click through his witty Slate columns, where no topic is too inconsequential to riff on, or track down some of his worthy contributions to Vh1’s “I Love the” series. Even better, see him in the flesh at his book signing at the W Hotel, where he’ll be free to make his obscure art references without footnotes, and his trashy one-liners are bound to smell a lot more like flowers.
Doonan signs his book at 7 p.m. at the W Hotel Rooftop Altitude Ballroom, 515 15th St. NW. Free. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.