"Regretsy" is a truly brilliant concept and book. April Winchell manages to mix amusing personal anecdotes with truly flabbergasting Etsy items that you can actually buy to absolutely wonderful effect. This is a great book for those who love hand-crafted things and DIY projects. The only thing that kept me from giving it a perfect five star rating is the omnipresent profanity in the book. I would have otherwise loved to have bought several more copies for people I know that like crafts, but the language flatly ruled that out. Don't misunderstand me, it's still plenty funny, but the expletives do not enhance the book and limit the target audience needlessly.
Having made that disclaimer, the book samples a perfect assortment of disturbing kitsch for sale on the Internet. I loved it immediately when she described this collection as "self-expression that misses the mark in some way." I'll say. There's not a single bad choice in the book, but some really do rise above the rest, starting with p. 12 which is a disgusting-looking "Brooch with Vintage Buttons" that inspired Winchell to comment "Tell her you'd marry her all over again with a prolapsed anus." What's scary is that that's the perfect comment. The "Charming Pond Scum and Amoeba Pendant" on p. 18 would go well with the brooch, while p. 30 features a "Chicken Poncho" ("modeled by Bantam Chick Lil Danya"), and in possibly my favorite thing in the entire book a "Pink Leopard Goat Coat" (p. 35; it is exactly what it sounds like and inspires a comparison with Kim Cattrall) is modeled by one extremely unhappy looking goat. Maybe she just looks sad on second thought.
The book gets stranger as it goes along, particularly in the "Toys and Dolls" section. on p. 48 there is an item titled "Wikette - Alien Doll Handmade by Kathleen" which Kathleen describes thusly: "One thing that makes her unique is the fact that a walnut was used for her head. If you have any questions feel free to contact me." Winchell did have some questions, as it turns out: "1. What am I looking at? 2. Where did the alien get the horse? Is it an alien horse? If so, does it contain nuts? 3. What if I wanted the head made out of a filbert? 4. How much is shipping to Earth? 5. Can I buy this if I have squirrels?" Perfect, April. Absolutely perfect. Moving past a frightening item on p. 51 that is so terrifying that I won't even attempt to describe it, we eventually get to "Art," but you may have wished you didn't. There are some truly stunning works here, my favorite of which (p. 90) is a painting called "Corndog on a Plane," which in the description justifying the $85 price tag says "Reminds me of the time I flew to New York and had a corndog."
Taxidermy and associated arts are featured prominently here too. My favorite is "Fish in a Squirrel Suit Taxidermy" (p. 107,) although "Baby Rat in Altoid Tin - Original Mixed Media Sculpture" (p. 110, $45) is fierce competition for sure, as is the surrealist entry "Aardvark's Frog on a Succulent Ham" which the seller claims is "For the holidays or whenever," though Winchell claims "I had this for breakfast once in Louisiana." As you work your way to the end the entries get even more bizarre: "Doll heads in a bowl of Brussels sprouts," "Miniature Fairy or Dollhouse Toilet with Frog," "Christmas Nativity Meerkats," etc. In the end Winchell reveals who made these gems, how to get them, and discusses the vendors, most of whom are self-deprecating and amused by her work, and many of whom leave comments that Winchell reprints, giving the artists the final word.
This is a great book, and wonderful commentary on handcrafted wonders in the digital age. If you can get past the language, there's no way you won't find this hilarious, if occasionally disturbing.