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Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption Kindle Edition
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Frances Corner has opined that "It was at the end of the nineteenth century when Marx dubbed religion 'the opium of the people'. In our increasingly secular world, I would now replace 'religion' with 'shopping'." All of “Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption” can be seen as an object lesson demonstrating the validity of this statement.
Coincidentally, right before reading Appelbaum’s book, I had gotten through memoirs by Joseph Brodsky, Geoff Dyer, and Sonali Deraniyagala, plus another two by Edmund White. Appelbaum’s prose is more evocative than all of the aforementioned: he presents complex ideas more lucidly, his writing flows better, and he tells better stories. For example, don’t miss the college road-trip episode that reads like a zany Hollywood comedy take on Jack Kerouac; or, likewise, the quite definitive account of what it’s like to be kept up all night by an alcoholic who is determined to drag you along into their current party-cum-binge and all the hoops they make you jump through along the way. And Appelbaum's descriptions of the San Francisco Bay Area are as trenchant as any I’ve read anywhere.
It takes a special writing talent to turn philosophy into fun, and commodity fetishism into comic material: Prof. Appelbaum has succeeded admirably.