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À la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers Hardcover – March 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905264178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905264179
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Ever since she was a teenager, performance artist and author Carlip (Queen of the Oddballs: And Other True Stories from a Life Unaccording to Plan) has been collecting strangers' lost shopping lists and imaging the lives and people behind them. With the help of expertly applied makeup and outlandish costumes, Carlip has turned herself into the men and women that she imagined. From a wife-seeking, Fu Manchu–mustached redneck to an octogenarian stand-up comic, a washed-up lesbian rock star to a 20-something goth boy, Carlip takes inspiration from both the mundane—potatoes—and the disturbing—mousetraps, cheese, mouse. The 26 vivid photographic portraits and accompanying narratives display the author's humor, grace and a brilliantly creative eye. Carlip's alter egos are larger than life and twice as entertaining. Fans of Sloane Tanen's Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same should flock to this hilarious, delightful, unique achievement. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Carlip, the self-described “queen of the oddballs” (from the title of her acclaimed memoir), draws on her love of story, passion for performance and transformation, eye for found art, and gift for comedic and empathic improvisation in a unique portrait gallery. A populist Cindy Sherman, an American Tracey Ullman, a female Eddie Murphy, and a disciple of Lily Tomlin, Carlip used her quirky collection of discarded shopping lists as inspiration for 26 characters, assuming the identity of men and women shoppers of various ages, backgrounds, and preoccupations. Carlip poses with great verve in brightly colored store aisles as Kim, a leathery biker momma grasping a bottle of Jack Daniels, her shopping list a tattered piece of red paper with “Jimmy Den” and “soda” crossed off and “Liqor” written assertively four times. Then there’s supermom June and her meticulously typed list for her Tourette’s-afflicted son’s birthday party; flannel-shirt-wearing, Fu Manchued Woody; tattooed punk pinup Heather; and lonely healthy-eater Fran. Each of Carlip’s ingeniously composed, funny, and insightful vignettes is a microcosm of struggle and hope. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Award-winning author Hillary Carlip's fourth book, A la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers (Virgin Books, March 2008) has been met with critical acclaim, receiving a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called the book a "hilarious, delightful, unique achievement." (www.alacartthebook.com)

Hillary's memoir, Queen of the Oddballs: And Other True Stories from a Life Unaccording to Plan (Harper Collins May, 2006), is an American Bookseller's Association Book Sense Pick chosen by independent bookstores throughout the country, a Lambda Literary Award finalist in two categories (humor and memoir), and was selected by Borders as one of the Best Literary Memoirs of 2006. (www.queenoftheoddballs.com)

Hillary has been hailed as a pioneer in bringing the voices of teenage girls into the mainstream with her first book Girl Power: Young Women Speak Out (Warner Books, 1995). She was honored by the New York Public Library when the groundbreaking Girl Power was selected for its prestigious "Best Books for Teens" list. When Hillary appeared on Oprah, the hour show was devoted to the book. Now in its eighth printing, Girl Power continues to attract new readers and is still required reading for many Women's Studies courses throughout the country.

Hillary's second book, Zine Scene (Girl Press, 1999), which she designed herself and co-wrote with the renowned author Francesca Lia Block, was included in a show at the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York City, and won an American Library Association Award.

Hillary is the creator, editor and host of the acclaimed literary website, FRESH YARN. Since April 2004, Hillary has presented personal essays written by a diverse range of all-star writers/performers and personalities. Currently expanding into a huge site for all things writing, FRESH YARN has been a YAHOO PICK, and was picked as a HOT SITE by USA Today. (www.freshyarn.com)

Hillary's writing appears in the anthologies: FIRED!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, & Dismissed (Touchstone Books, 2006) and Not Quite What I was Planning: The Six-Word Memoir (HarperCollins, 2008).

As a visual artist, Hillary has designed and produced websites for major stars (including Jennifer Aniston), authors, musicians, artists, and advertisers, and continues to break ground with her web production and design company Fly HC Multimedia. (www.flyhcmultimedia.com) Hillary has shown and sold her found-object assemblages through several prominent Los Angeles galleries. She has also done private commissions and been featured in group exhibits in New York and Chicago.

As a performance artist, Hillary has written and performed comedy material, as well as juggled and eaten fire as a solo act, and with such noted performers as the Flying Karamazov Brothers. She appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, teaching Ellen how to eat fire (complete with Liza Minnelli running onstage -- unplanned -- with a fire extinguisher!), and was a winner on the original Gong Show. She also started her own record label, releasing songs she wrote and performed with her all-girl band, Angel and the Reruns. The band's song "Buffy Come Back" became an international cult hit, and Hillary appeared in several films (including Tom Hank's Bachelor Party), and on their soundtracks, with songs she wrote, produced and performed.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A great book as a gift (Mother's Day!)
W. Bruce Cameron
This book is fantastically brilliant, and disturbing, and hilarious, and Carlip is a marvel.
Diane Flacks
Easy to read and hard to put down, this book cracked me up from beginning to end.
L. Bonack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Hillary Carlip is first and foremost a comedienne as her previous 'autobiographical' book QUEEN OF THE ODDBALLS confirmed. But at the heart of comedy is tragedy, something every fine writer of comedy understands, and it is that turn of words that makes a potentially tragic story the seed of comedy. In her newest book A LA CART: THE SECRET LIVES OF GROCERY SHOPPERS Carlip has selected the idea of exploring the creators of random shopping lists found in markets, parking lots, and other unlikely places and from these tidbits of notations she has created the persons who wrote them - which turns out to be twenty six individuals whose lives become the matrix for Carlip to bring to the performance stage of this book. Each character is imagined with insight and sensitivity and then physically transformed into a 'real person' by the actress Carlip and her crew of makeup artist, costume designer, and, very importantly, her photographer, Barbara Green.

In this very well-designed book are images of the found lists, the 'characters' who wrote them as impersonated by Carlip and photographed by Green in the marketplaces the characters might have used, accompanied by a short story about each person, written with great skill and humor and pathos by Carlip. It is a 'compleat' experience as we are allowed to meet each of the 26 list writers, people who range from hookers, to porn stars, to teenagers, to coupon clipping ex-quilter Helen, a street person, a therapist who is clearly out of joint, to Latinas with oddly utilized cafés or frustrated careers as airline hostesses, Latinos of varying sexual persuasion - the list is so varied that it includes men and women whose lives at first seem comical, but whose emotional states are at times in tatters.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn M. Mason on March 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before I could even open my new copy of Hillary Carlip's , A La Cart, my 18 year-old daughter snatched it away and read it cover to cover. When I finally got it back, she hung over my shoulder as I read, laughing again at each character and their grocery list. The premise; make up characters based on their discarded grocery list and then have clever photographer shoot you playing all the characters.

One reason she likes it so much is because we've always played what we call "airport people." When we wait for our flight, we take turns making up bios about the people waiting around us.
We also grab left over grocery store lists from the bottom of random carts. We've just never put the two together. But we will now.

Her favorites: Darcy, the punker who grew up listening to The Dead Kennedy's and wants to be a comic book author.
Derrick, who listed, Mouse Traps, cheese and mouse on his post it note. Ooh,,the goth guy.
My fave: Lloyd, hunched over in his motorized wheelchair, trying to adjust to wife Sylvia's death and Woody who wrote: Coors and oreos on the inside of box of matches. Love THAT!
The photographer, Barbara Green, does an amazing job with each shot. Woody made the front cover with his package of Oreos. .

It's a fun, lively book, great gift for,,anyone, even jaded teenagers like mine.

I just wonder what Carlip would create from MY grocery list this week: Beer, bagels, bread, bacon and brownie mix.

My to do list: Get the Oddball book next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nanny Cahill on April 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was a huge fan of Hillary Carlip's last book - "Queen of the Oddballs" - her insights and humor and compassion in her writing felt fresh and funny and very alive. I have to say I think she may have topped herself with 'A La Cart' . Who hasn't seen a grocery list and wondered the kind of person who wrote it?? Well, now we know. I don't know who I love more -- Graciela, June or Pammy. I confess Troy scares me just a little.

Hillary brings performance art to the pages with these brilliant characterizations and amazing photographs. This would make a great gift too. I'm just saying...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carole V. Murray on March 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Hillary Carlip has been collecting found shopping lists for over twenty-five years. She has carefully imagined the lives of the list-writers and created personas for them. Dressing up as the characters, she morphs from a young Vietnamese immigrant to a porn star, from a gay Cuban man to stroke-addled aged woman. The make-up and hair work for each character is perfection. She is convincing in all her poses. Funny, touching, radically original- put it on your shopping list!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Finch on April 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Bought it, read cover to cover in one sitting. Bought it for my mother, my father got jealous. It's my new "just because" present. My roommate stole it from me. Am I bitter? No! The more people that read this smart, hilarious, and slightly insane (in a great way!) book, the better. Color me a huge A la Cart fan!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Diane Flacks on March 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is fantastically brilliant, and disturbing, and hilarious, and Carlip is a marvel. The fact that Carlip has people like Kim, Tuyen, and Deb in her - well, I'm floored! So insightful about humanity, and it's so much fun. A great, totally unique gift for anyone!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Bonack on March 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since first reading Hillary Carlip's previous book, Queen of the Oddballs, I've lamented the fact that I haven't been able to see her performance art. Well, a la Cart is the next best thing. Easy to read and hard to put down, this book cracked me up from beginning to end. Although hard pressed to pick a favorite, I will say that I love Jet and think I need to start seeing Dr. Bloom. I can't get over the fact that Tuyen, Lloyd and Millie are the same person underneath it all! I'll never look at a shopping list the same way again!
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