The Measure of a Man, by JJ Lee

(McClelland & Stewart, September 2011)

A Non-Fiction pick by Jean-Louis

The subtitle to Lee’s book, “The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit” neatly ties all the threads of this book together. This very attractive book is part memoir, part social commentary, and part fashion guide.

As a kid I spent many hours listening to the hum of sewing machines and made countless trips with my mother and sisters to buy fabric. It seems that the art of making our own garments is nearly gone. This book takes us along on a journey into the arcane world of tailors and introduces us to the Wong brothers who have been operating a family tailoring shop in Vancouver for nearly 100 years (okay their Dad started the shop).

With the suit as his main metaphor, Lee explores the fabric of family and the seams that define his relationship to his own father and the “fathers” he meets along the way.

I invite you to read the book, think about your own garments, ponder their construction, and how these designs came to be. Like every good memoir, this book reflects a little piece of ourselves back at us.

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