Now I know why I'm mostly bored by the celebrated personalities of film, music and art, much less TV culture, but am inexplicably fascinated by what's found in gargantuan container ships, the private work life of a biscuit brand manager, the origins of the pylons that stretch power lines across our urban and rural landscapes, and on down the list of obscure objects and professions that Alain de Botton contemplates in this essay collection. The reason I get bored -- and I imagine others -- is that celebrity culture sucks way more attention than it merits. As this writer-philosopher demonstrates, our civilization creates and transacts and consumes many splendid things that don't happen to make into a museum or get digitized for posterity, but they and the work required to bring them to life have consequences -- both corrupting our souls and giving life meaning. De Botton's style can be dense and his arguments spiral, but this book is studded with humorous accounts and consistently entertains.
As a riposte to the preceding reviewer, I've also been listening to Audible audiobooks for 10 years and this is the first time that I remember giving five stars.
If I were a news channel producer, faced with paying retired politicians and generals unmentionable sums to offer ostensibly credible commentary on this issue or that, I'd shoot the wad instead on Sarah Vowell. Whatever the aspect of American political or private life, she has just the story or angle to lend fresh insight--to leave one pondering the questions, rather than taking sides on the issue. Whether you're a CSPAN devote, or just looking for an original American wit, Vowell is politics as entertainment.
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