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How Sassy Changed My Life Paperback – Apr 17 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (April 17 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571211852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571211852
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 21 x 26.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #298,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Gone, but never forgotten April 21 2007
By Edward Aycock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the summer of 1991, I was 19 and staying with relatives for a few months. A cousin five years younger than I was a subscriber to "Sassy" and she had several months of back issues on the hall bookshelves. One day at a loss for things to read, I picked up a random issue ... By the end of the summer, my cousin would notify me when she'd received a new issue and I'd rush to read it. I had no idea that I was only one of many males who also read Sassy, nor could I have foreseen that such a great magazine would have such a short life. I have a sister who'd read Seventeen but I never had any interest in that; it was too dull. What I liked about Sassy was why so many others loved it: it treated young women as though they were young women not a demographic, Sassy didn't talk down to its varied readers, it featured more than blondes on the cover, didn't have a "girls only" feel about it, and it was damn funny. The editors weren't a nameless, faceless mass but were people just like us who acknowledged that everybody was in this struggle known as life together, that life sometimes really blew, so once a month, why not just talk about what we could do to make it that much more bearable. I remember thinking Jane Pratt's "Letters from the Editor" were hilarious, and the Sonic Youth story when they went shopping at the downtown flea market being so cool - oh god, they like Sonic Youth too!

Times unfortunately changed and advertisers balked, as they're wont to do and Sassy tried to become more of a Stepford Teen Mag. Then it folded.

"How Sassy Changed My Life" is a great chronicle of the rise, fall and legacy of this one of a kind magazine. It's a fun walk down memory lane, as well as a rather sobering look at how the advertisers would loves us all to live in a world where we all wear rose-colored glasses. Sassy refused to pander and sadly went away, but it's never been forgotten. This book is a wonderful love letter not only to the magazine, but a bygone era. I wish there had been photographs or excerpts from the magazine itself besides just the cover photo. Perhaps this will spur a best of Sassy compendium. That would be very welcome.

I'd love to think that if enough people read this book, or seek out back issues on eBay, that somebody will try to make their own cool magazine. In these days of more advertising control than ever as well as the electronic age, it may not even happen but I'm glad this book will show a younger generation what they missed out on and what they could, in one form or another, have again.

PS If you are unaware of the control advertisers have on media, please look for a copy of Gloria Steinem's eye-opening essay "Sex, Lies and Advertising" which is collected in her book "Moving Beyond Words." That will add some context to why magazines can struggle with including "controversial" content and will put Sassy's demise into perspective.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A celebration of the magazine which influenced a generation of liberal, activist young women May 20 2007
By Jessica Lux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The central thesis of How Sassy Changed My Life is that the one-of-a-kind teen magazine created a club of kindred spirits during its short 6-year tenure, and that it has had a lasting effect on a generation (or two) of American women. Authors Jesella and Meltzer write "Upon meeting a fellow Sassy fan, we feel like we understand something essential about that person: their life philosophy, what their politics might be like, what their artistic preferences are, what they were like in high school, what kind of person they wanted to grow up to be. (By contrast, we find non-fans of a certain age slightly suspect.)"

Since this title is about how Sassy changed our lives, it is necessary for me to reflect on my own Sassy readership. I picked it up for the first time at age eleven, when the magazine was just two years old. My best friend and I were immediate converts, and even created our own short-lived dozen-wide-circulation `zine in the Sassy tradition. I have all my Sassy back issues. When the magazine was sold to the owners of Teen magazine in 1994, the editorial staff was fired, and the name was repackaged as standard bubblegum fare, I never knew why my magazine died such a horrible death. I cancelled my subscription to the "Stepford Sassy" and every time I got a renewal notice, I would write an angry letter about my disgust with the new magazine (my boyfriend at the time could never understand why I had such passionate distaste for renewal notices).

Finally, the story of the rise and untimely death of Sassy is told, in this fine collection with chapters about the conception of the magazine, its rise, its relationship to the competitors, the lives of the staffers, the feminism of the publication, and its catastrophic fall from grace.

Sassy was the first magazine in which I read bylines, in which I reflected on what I knew about the writer of each piece, and how his or her personality and life experience played into the end product. Sassy poked fun at the celebrity worship and body-flaw fixing so central to other teen magazines. It talked frankly about sex in a voice completely opposite from that of your curmudgeonly gym teacher. Jesella and Meltzer's book is not only a delightful trip down memory lane, it also reveals important behind-the-scenes tensions and political maneuverings, as well as the cultural significance of the periodical. Highly recommended.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining and nostalgic look at Sassy April 18 2007
By Susan Johnston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book examines the back story of Sassy magazine, but also puts it into context with zines, indie music and other teen movements of the late 1980s to early 1990s. Thoroughly researched and written with a touch of Sassy sarcasm, this book belongs on the shelf of any Sassy fan.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great concept falls a little flat Feb. 2 2009
By superkid268 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really think that this book could have been really amazing: the concept was great and the subject was really well-researched. Some sections really shined, but (honestly) others fell flat. I think that there was a lot of emphasis placed on the editors and writers of the magazine and their lives and opinions - and while I believe that they made Sassy WHAT it was - a stronger emphasis could have been placed on story-lines or quotes from specific pieces. The same goes for images in the book - there were no photos or illustrations. If the work was solely a history or analysis piece, I could expect that. But, while the writers have a strong amount of written content, part of the book SHOULD read as a celebrated tribute, and incorporate a visual aspect (photos of staff, photos of fans, ect). There were also several cultural references (one that comes to mind - Liz Phair) that may have been significant for some readers, but that could easily be lost on some readers. But, it is only very slightly disappointing - I did enjoy the book. Any former Sassy reader will.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Once Upon A Time July 26 2007
By William H. Kelsey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Long, long ago (not really, just the early 1990's, but it feels like forever!), there was the most fantastic teen magazine ever: SASSY!!! For girls like myself (this is William's wife Jen writing, by the way, in case anyone is wondering "Huh?") who were not the upper class WASPs of America with money to burn, perfect tans and bleached hair and New Kids lust, Sassy was such an amazing outlit for our social, political, and emotional frustrations. I was a girl who didn't gave a darn about 90210, Debbie Gibson, Prada, Calvin Klein, social conformity, and Sassy really helped to open up a whole nother world. The staff at Sassy became like our cooler older sisters in the hip underground: they knew all of the cool bands, fashions, actors, etc before the mainstream media had a clue. Also, I must add, that Sassy was the first place where I had read about Wicca which is now my spiritual path in life. In a time which I was an outcast demiJew interested in paganism and Buddhism but forced to going to a very Conservative Catholic school full of the standard cheerleader types (their solution to life was just to follow whatever nonsense the nuns and their parents proclaimed, no matter how braindead, and never to think for themselves), Sassy was literally a Goddess send where I finally felt connected.
On another note, I was very happy to see that they added a bit about how many girls felt alienated by the ultra- underground and alternative aspects of Sassy. Towards the end of the magazine, it seemed to me (and after reading, I'm glad I'm not the only one) that if you liked any song that managed to get on the radio, any show that had appeared in TV Guide, or wanted to dye your hair with Clairol instead of funky Kool Aid colours, then you were deemed terminally uphip (I remember as if it were yesterday how they trashed my then favourite band Roxette). I think that that exclusiveness, rather than any boycotts about the sex columns, were the cause of Sassy's demise. Still, it was an amazing magazine and so uplift and often soulsearching for its readers and sadly no magazine has come close to filling that void for today's young women (although B*tch is great. Check it out if you can).


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