Saturday, June 3, 2023

Look at the Lights, My Love (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Look at the Lights, My Love (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)Look at the Lights, My Love by Annie Ernaux
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nobelist Ernaux has written an initially compelling study of a superstore in France called Auchan (think, Walmart) and every aspect from the standpoint of an observer on marketing strategies, product placement, pricing, sociological implications, customers, staff, departments (i.e. fish, pharmacy, bakery, bookstore, etc.) and the satellite stores such as McDonalds, a bowling alley, a news and tobacco shop along side. She kept a journal of her observations for many months and ends this eighty-page journal with
"As the months went by, I was able to measure the controlling force exerted by mass production spaces in real and imaginary ways. By provoking desires at dictated times, its violence equally present in the colorful profusion of yogurt flavors as in the gray everyday deals aisles, and by reinforcing social stigmas through the accommodation of individuals with low incomes. The items purchased whether in a little heap or a toppling mountain on the conveyor belt, are nearly always among the cheapest. Upon leaving the superstore, I was often overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness and injustice. But for all that, I have not ceased to feel the appeal of the place and the community life, subtle and specific, that exists there."
Alas, I ceased to feel the appeal of her book midway and put it down.

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Thursday, June 1, 2023

The Guest Lecture

The Guest LectureThe Guest Lecture by Martin Riker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Guest Lecture was mildly interesting when the narrator talked about and with John Maynard Keynes or mentioned Rhetorician Aspasia, "portrayed as both a sexualised and sexually liberated woman and as a feminist role model fighting for women's rights in ancient Athens." Or even economics or philosophy, all wrapped in heavy musing, almost all musing on the narrator's part in preparing her lecture and pondering her failure to get tenure. I read half the book carefully, then skimmed wearily. Enough. Perhaps if it was the only book on my stack, but the competition is heavy. The writing, by the way, is very fine and I am impressed that the author, Martin Riker, is the publisher of feminist press Dorothy with its stunning list of titles in handsome wraps.

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