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Inconspicuous Consumption: An Obsessive Look at the Stuff We Take for Granted, from the Everyday to the Obscure Paperback – January 21, 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's something a little sad about the fact that shopping has become the Western world's favorite leisure activity, but I guess if we're trapped in a post-capitalist consumer society the best we can do is follow Paul Lukas's advice and treat the corporate wastelands of our industrial decline as playgrounds and art galleries beyond the scope of shrinking government entitlements and endowments. In Inconspicuous Consumption the fetish value of the obscure and bizarre products that occupy the back shelves of supermarkets is explored in loving detail. If you wish to know the pleasures of sauerkraut juice, toothpick dispensers, and adhesive nipple covers then this collection of articles from the zine Beer Frame should be your Baedeker to the land of ironic shopping.

From School Library Journal

YA. A short, enjoyable book that will have teens reading chunks aloud to their friends. Its premise is that we take many interesting/bizarre/obscure commercial products for granted and don't even notice their presence. Lukas offers a page or two of his takes on 105 of them, as well as the amusing results of his efforts to learn more from the manufacturers (the addresses of all of which are given in the back). The author has a true eye for kitsch and writes in a breezy, humorous style. Did you know that the gizmo used to measure your shoe size is called a Brannock device? Ever considered using an Etch-a-Sketch to write an untraceable ransom note? Familiar with the concept of bottled water for cats and dogs? A fun read?be forewarned, though, that there appears the occasional obscenity used as an adjective.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (January 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517886685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517886687
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
Paul has a talent for looking twice at products we usually take for granted. It's the "how did we ever miss this?" attitude he takes that makes his book and writing so fun -- he's got a great wit and eye for the absurd in everyday life. After reading his book (and his zine, Beer Frame), I've never been able to go to the supermarket in the same way again
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By A Customer on May 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
I always wondered if I was the only person in the world who was blown away by products like "Armour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy". Paul Lukas has proven that a) I'm not alone and b) if I was more talented I could have made money writing a book about bizarre products. My only complaint about this book was that it ended. I was ready for hundreds of more examples, particularly the weird foods.
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Format: Paperback
As Sigue Sigue Sputnik so weirdly proved back in the '80s, _anything_ can be a product (even a rock band). This well-written, researched and hilarious book takes us from Thirst and Musk LifeSavers (a favorite in the former penal colony known as Australia) to microwave pork rinds and the smoker's robot (read to believe). The perfect read-to-your-friend-in-the-car-while-roadtripping book
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Format: Paperback
By now this book is pretty old - it was written in the pre-internet age when a lot of the information Lukas so carefully scrounged (one entry dates back to 1988, and the book was published in 1997), but maybe that's the point. I don't quite buy this theory on "inconspicuous" consumption - this seems more like conspicuous consumption to me - and "from the everyday to the obscure" is an inaccurate description of what is catalogue here (since nearly everything is obscure), but these are minor beefs. Otherwise, the book is a fascinating chronicling of an obsessive social historian having fun with his purchases. Occasionally, we also get a glimpse of the fun life Lukas seems to live, when he recounts exploring abandoned steel works and other industrial wastelands. His writing style is fun and very zine-like, typically involving a sarcastic description of the item, some zeitgeist, a recounting of some sort of tale from his quest, and a punchline at the end. All in two pages. Some items are also clubbed together, such as three jewellery-related antiques.

Good fun for anyone interested in junk hunting!
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