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The Retail Paperback – July 18, 2014
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Danker-Dake incorporates humor, emotion, and social commentary into his debut novel, which reads like the script for a smart comedy film...Here's to a sequel." --Publishers Weekly
"I love it, I love it, I love it...Rare is the occasion when you read a book that thoroughly delights you." --Carol Piner, The Kindle Book Review
"Be prepared to be seriously entertained...A must-read." --Readers' Favorite
"Danker-Dake needs to start writing sitcoms in Hollywood. The dialogue is razor-sharp and enormously entertaining." --Jami Fullerton, Peggy Welch Chair, Oklahoma State University
About the Author
Born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, Joshua Danker-Dake now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his wife and three children. A writer and editor by trade, he also serves as the Strategy and Tactics Editor for Diplomacy World, the flagship publication of the Diplomacy hobby. Other things he gets rather excited about include He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, bombastic European power metal, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
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Top customer reviews
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While other writers might have treated the subject existentially, Mr. Danker-Dake offers a fresh perspective. Penn, the main character ultimately breaks free of retail’s clutches. The fact that he unwittingly does so makes the resolution of his problem unexpected and serves to reinforce the book’s broader theme. Penn is aptly named after his writing aspirations, and one often wonders which will triumph in the end: the retail establishment or the flawed, but irrepressible, dreamer.
This novel’s relevance lies, not only in its mirroring of contemporary retail culture, but in the way Penn’s predicament, that of a college graduate unable to graduate on time or find a job commensurate with his abilities, brings some of the challenges faced by those coming-of-age into high relief. While, on the surface, this story could be interpreted as merely a chronicle of the daily retail grind, its depth lies in the way the story’s point of view, pace, structure, setting, characters, and other elements of fiction reinforce the repressive aspects of retail culture: futility, alienation, absurdity, free-floating hostility, self-centeredness, shallowness, and lack of true connection. Danker-Dake turns the setting into a character in its own right. Witty dialogue, quirky, memorable characters, and humorous, yet ironically poignant incidents made what could have been a tedious plot unforgettable.
Danker-Dake resists turning Penn into a classic, reflective, proactive hero, who overcomes obstacles as he matures. Instead, the author portrays Penn as a product of the times in which he lives. Appropriately, the story is written from an “I” point-of-view, which keeps the focus on Penn, instead of on supporting characters.
References to the parasitic nature of retail hark back to Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis." But unlike Gregor Samsa, Penn is not overcome by the dehumanizing, insidious forces robbing him of his dreams, his health, and his spirit. In a welcome twist at the end, those forces combine with Penn's dissatisfaction to result in, not so much a metamorphosis as the possibility for positive transformation. We are left with a glimmer of hope. The message is clear: Our fate is largely up to us, with a little help from others and serendipity. What keeps us from being sucked into an abyss of despair is, as Emily Dickinson described it, “the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops - at all. . . .”
When I finished reading “The Retail,” I felt like a bird freed of its cage, and I was grateful that I don’t work as a cashier--or more euphemistically, sales associate--for any large retail establishment. I also had greater empathy for those who do. Good luck to all the Penns out there. I’ll be rooting for you.
Each day is an entry in a journal of sorts used to tell a story of a Christian author to-be and his constant worries of becoming something to someone. While reading his journey, you get to know a love interest, an annoying but constant friend, and the constant stream of customers that always seem to bring an element of humor in a refreshing way.
Danker-Dake writing is refreshing and modern. He uses simplistic style and clever word combinations. In that the book is segmented by journal entries, it leaves great breaking points without getting lost in the constant driving plots. There was no great epiphany after reading this, no moment to become a better person, but a chuckle, and a sense of hope for the characters.
I closed the book with a smile and thought... "that was fun."
Thank you Joshua for the laughter!!
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