Can’t win them all

24 Apr

Sometimes you hit the bull’s eye. Sometimes you miss it by a few inches. That’s pretty much where my last book selection landed.

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail
Caitlin Kelly
240 pages

I thoroughly enjoy biographies. I love to get inside a person’s head and hear their life, their observations, the nuances, the challenges in their voice. I have to say, though, that this time I was anxious to finish this book and get the author our of my head.

I heard part of author Caitlin Kelly’s NPR interview last week and was intrigued by the idea of the book: displaced professional take a retail job to help make ends meet. As the economy continues to try and recover, the media has covered individuals who have been forced to select other professions and lower-paying jobs after losing their jobs.

Kelly is a journalist who has written for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other big names. The unfortunate part is that by the time I finished this book, I bet I had been reminded of this fact no fewer than a dozen times. In juxtaposing her part-time retail job at a Northface store, she repeatedly and at excess reminded the reader of what her former life had looked like. While some of her observations of her one-day-a-week second job were pithy, the constant reminders of her former life, combined with other repetitive points and details, led me to wonder if at some point she hadn’t run out of things to talk about but had a page count she was required to reach…because she kept having the same conversation with me.

There are a number of legitimate and insightful points made in this book — our lack of respect for those who ring us up when we’ve bought the latest fashions, our weekly groceries and wait on us when we’re out for a meal, as well as much of corporate America’s lack of focus on treating workers with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, these points were nearly lost on me when the author’s voice and tone were more intrusive than educational.

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