One of our recommended books is Having and Being Had by Eula Biss

HAVING AND BEING HAD


A timely and arresting new look at affluence by the New York Times bestselling author.

“My adult life can be divided into two distinct parts,” Eula Biss writes, “the time before I owned a washing machine and the time after.” Having just purchased her first home, the poet and essayist now embarks on a provocative exploration of the value system she has bought into. Through a series of engaging exchanges— in libraries and laundromats, over barstools and backyard fences— she examines our assumptions about class and property and the ways we internalize the demands of capitalism.

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A timely and arresting new look at affluence by the New York Times bestselling author.

“My adult life can be divided into two distinct parts,” Eula Biss writes, “the time before I owned a washing machine and the time after.” Having just purchased her first home, the poet and essayist now embarks on a provocative exploration of the value system she has bought into. Through a series of engaging exchanges— in libraries and laundromats, over barstools and backyard fences— she examines our assumptions about class and property and the ways we internalize the demands of capitalism. Described by The New York Times as a writer who “advances from all sides, like a chess player,” Biss offers an uncommonly immersive and deeply revealing new portrait of work and luxury, of accumulation and consumption, of the value of time and how we spend it. Ranging from IKEA to Beyoncé to Pokemon, Biss asks, of both herself and her class, “In what have we invested?”

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  • Riverhead Books
  • Hardcover
  • September 2020
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780525537458

Buy the Book

$26.00

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About Eula Biss

Eula Biss is the author of Having and Being HadEula Biss is the author of four books, including The New York Times bestseller On Immunity: An Inoculation, which was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times Book Review, and Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Believer, and elsewhere, and has been supported by an NEA Literature Fellowship, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Praise

“A sensational book . . . Keenly aware of her privilege as a white, well-educated woman who has benefited from a wide network of family and friends, Biss has written a book that is, in effect, the opposite of capitalism in its willingness to acknowledge that everything she’s accomplished rests on the labor of others.”Associated Press

“Incisive, impressive and often poetic . . .The marvel of this book, and of Ms. Biss’s prose in general, is the spare and engaging way she interrogates such complex and abstract concepts. With references to Adam Smith and Dire Straits, Karl Marx and Scooby-Doo, she turns what is essentially a chronicle of white guilt and anxious privilege into a thoughtful and nuanced meditation on the compromises inherent in having a comfortable life.”  —The Wall Street Journal

“A major achievement. Having and Being Had, rather than leading through narrative, turns individual words and phrases, like capitalism, consumers, great America, husbandry, art, and work, into fields of inquiry in order to frame a life. With astute consideration, this expansive and intimate accumulation asks the questions that touch all our lives.” —Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen

“By rooting each meditation in lived experience, Biss captures the way that the capitalist value system has weaseled itself into our everyday. . . . Beyond her frankness, what Biss does so well here is enact an ongoing wrestling with the rules of the capitalist game—to stay in her discomfort, even if only for a page or three at a time, to keep trying to pin it down.” —NPR