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Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2014 (English)Book (Other academic) [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

Working the Aisles takes the reader on tumultuous driving trips across the United States and France, on phone sex escapades in San Francisco, on banking battles in Sweden, and many other adventures – including, of course, on trips to supermarkets, where the author has had to ‘work the aisles’. Moving back and forth through time, like a novelist, indeed in something of a memoirist tour de force, the book develops the story of struggle, of poverty and depression, but also of gaiety and desire, of a will to live in spite of it all, and to keep working the aisles. It moves the reader through highs and lows, through episodes of ecstasy and thoughts about suicide, and tells how this particular Everyman ended up sane but sorry.

Abstract [en]

Robert Appelbaum's new book is a deep and passionate meditation on the meaning of consumption in contemporary society. Its engagement with the concept, while primarily auto-biographical, offers a number of theoretical pointers and extended critical openings that turn this book into an example of what good, experientially relevant, cultural studies might read like today. There is a lot here to remind us that capitalism is as much about systemic expropriation and value accumulation as about `immaterial' struggle on the terrain of affects and desires. Appelbaum's incantatory and recurrent motto - `they do not love you' - comes to life in a series of vignettes, ranging from the warmly frivolous to the painfully moving, in which the alien seductions of the commodified universe of the supermarket combine and alternate with the enslaving pressures of precarious work. Whether recreating scenes of youthful angst or adult pleasure, of despair or survival, his claim is coherent and indisputable: either way, whether it is your spurious satisfaction or your capacity to sell and provide satisfaction for others that is on offer, they do not love you because love is what exceeds the limits of the marketable. Appelbaum makes a very Spinozian and revolutionary point in reclaiming desire - and love - from the claws of the system and in reminding us of what is really at stake in this universe of 24/7 capitalism. ~ Roberto del Valle Alcala, Amazon.co.uk

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Winchester, UK: Zero Books , 2014. , 251 p.
Keyword [en]
Consumption, Memoir, Supermarkets, Neoliberalism
National Category
Humanities General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-227593ISBN: 978-1-78279-357-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-227593DiVA: diva2:730414
Available from: 2014-06-27 Created: 2014-06-27 Last updated: 2014-06-30Bibliographically approved

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