Having and Being Had by Eula Biss

“A sensational new book [that] tries to determine out whether or not it’s viable to live an moral lifestyles in a capitalist society. . . . The results are enthralling.” —Associated Press A well timed and arresting new examine affluence by means of the New York Times bestselling author.“My adult lifestyles may be divided into two awesome parts,” Eula Biss writes, “the time before I owned a washing device and the time after.” Having just bought her first home, the poet and essayist now embarks on a provocative exploration of the value gadget she has offered into. Through a sequence of engaging exchanges— in libraries and laundromats, over barstools and outside fences— she examines our assumptions about class and property and the approaches we internalize the demands of capitalism. Described by The New York Times as a author 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 cost of time and the way we spend it. Ranging from IKEA to Beyoncé to Pokemon, Biss asks, of each herself and her magnificence, “In what have we invested?”


Writer Eula Biss worked quite a few brief jobs earlier than achieving economic safety as an English professor at Northwestern University. The moment her contract shifted from visiting artist to a greater permanent title, Biss and her family sold a house. As she got here to phrases together with her new success, she also discovered herself reflecting on precarity—as well as money, artwork and capitalism. Why is being an artist so at odds with the form of mentality had to locate stability in our cutting-edge world? What do we surrender as we pursue financial gain? How can we find agency—write our own policies for living—at the same time as additionally making our manner within good sized capitalist systems that are entrenched and apparently immovable? These are the large questions Biss approaches in her compulsively readable memoir, Having and Being Had, which blends research (the notes section is nearly 50 pages long), reflection and richly rendered personal experience.

Noting how a person’s monetary norms are largely decided by way of their social group, Biss brings humans from her lifestyles into this story—associates she sits by means of at dinner parties, friends with whom she swaps books, academics at Northwestern and fellow parents. She thinks approximately her mother and brother, her husband and son, her house and belongings, her old buddies and new neighbors, and the massive abstract things that inevitably shape how she sees and moves thru the world: gentrification, whiteness, privilege and consumption. Through all of this, she keeps a careful eye on how undertaking capitalist monetary systems—even as a person experiencing success—brings an unavoidable sense of alienation.

For Biss, artwork can cope with this feeling of alienation. And the artfulness of Biss’ prose is completely on show in this memoir, which is manufactured from tiny short-shape pieces strung together like beads on a necklace, every one leading to the subsequent yet also status on my own like a wonderfully fashioned droplet. This is a e-book that asks to be examine, absorbed and study again.


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