Audiobooks! (21-22)

I need to update to include audiobooks (which I forget about as I don’t see them surrounding me on my royal throne). Actually 2 of them!

Saturday, while driving to a wedding, my wife and I listened to Thirteen at Dinner by Agatha Christie (there are so many versions I won’t even bother with a link). I used to read a lot of Christie (one of my mom’s favorites, too) and have enjoyed some of the PBS/BBC dramatizations (especially David Suchet’s Poirot). Fun, not deep, but it counts.

I also began a more recent work I’ve thought of reading but haven’t gotten to: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’m through the first few chapters and have a few initial reactions. The historical stuff (the rise of McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr.) which occupy the first section are interesting and are quintessential American stories. People start with nothing and become extremely successful. There is also something right about the general point of the book; something has been lost with the commodification of food (and the rest of life; fast food is a metaphor/prism for broader social changes). Elements of the good old days have been lost. Yet there are gains, too – and I’m not sure Schlosser balances these entirely.

At the same time, it’s all filtered through a particular political and social prism, some of which makes good points, but other parts seem boring to me (I can’t really think of a better term, but it doesn’t quite capture it). The complaints about profit, marketing (which seems almost universally a bad thing), advertising to children and all are just somewhat tiresome, if they aren’t balanced with at least some sense of personal responsibility. Children drink too much soda and have TVs in the room when they’re young? I think there is something called parents that might be able to help with some of this! This is not to downplay the way our culture has been absorbed into a largely materialist and consumerist framework, which makes it harder to be a good parent.

Maybe Power Failure will help me think through this more as I complete it – as technology is really behind the fast food cultural transformation (cars, assembly line food production, and so on).


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