Who doesn’t love to let their fingers do the walking through glossy catalogs?
The Illustrated History of Mail Order Shopping
by Robin Cherry
$35.00 List Price
Every time I flip through an L. L. Bean or The Company Store catalog and start to surrender to a world demanding no more of me than to juggle price, size, and color, a scene from Seinfeld comes to mind. Elaine is lying on her bed, thumbing through a Hammacher Schlemmer–y catalog, and considers purchasing “The World’s Best Pizza Cutter.” “Seventy-six bucks, how often do I make . . .” she says—and then, with revulsion, “Oh, I’ve gotta buy a book!” She doesn’t actually run off to buy one, but her reading life’s shrinkage to ad copy and product shots is made depressingly clear. (After all, Elaine’s been working for the J. Peterman catalog, where she writes eroticized blurbs for products like Bengalese Galoshes and the Urban Sombrero.)
Who hasn’t been mesmerized into imagining a whole new you through four-color,
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