Monday, July 18, 2011

What is Rachel Shteir reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Rachel Shteir, author of The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting.

Her entry begins:
Reading? What writers have time to read? I want their names and telephone numbers. Telephone numbers. I date myself. I want their Twitter handles.

I have been mostly reading for work, i.e. background reading for pieces I'm working on, books I'm reviewing for various publications. Recently, I read Sigrid Nunez' excellent book about Susan Sontag, (and re-read a lot of books by the brilliant writer herself), a book about boredom by a scholar, Peter Toohey and a lot of David Mamet. Those were all for reviews, thankfully different reviews.

I can tell you what I would like to read: Gioia Diliberto's book about Hadley Hemingway, Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife is not a new book per se, it was published, I believe, in 1992. But Harper Collins is re-releasing it as an e-book and a paperback. I heard Gioia talk at the Printer's Row Book Fair and the way she talked about the relationship between Hadley and Hemingway broke my heart. Hadley married Hemingway when they were young and he was an aspiring writer and they were devoted to each other. Then when he was becoming (or had become) famous, he wanted other things and she became too serious and Midwestern for him.

Gioia did original research to tell the story of Hadley, who was a complex figure and maybe the woman Hemingway loved the most. The reason I can't read it is I don't have an e-reader, so I have to wait until it is re-released as a paperback in September.

Oh, now that I think of it, there are several other new and (less new) books that I read recently by...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Steal:
"Successful theft exhilarates," wrote Truman Capote in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Shteir's cultural history evinces that reading about it can be just as exhilarating. Shteir (Striptease) unravels the mystery of why 27 million Americans shoplift everything from condoms and Bibles to much more conspicuous items like kayaks and rugs. ... Tracing the evolution of shoplifting through history (Eve, she quips, was the very first shoplifter when she swiped that apple), the responses of the police and of stores, Shteir examines its social significance and discovers that everyone from St. Augustine to Alfred Hitchcock have had an opinion on sticky-fingered shoppers. Shteir's fascination for the topic and sense of humor are infectious, and make her history of this curious, understudied crime compulsively readable.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A comprehensive, thoughtful book that should get readers’ mental juices stirring.”

“...attention-grabbing, extremely well-researched study...”
--Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times
Learn more about the book and author at Rachel Shteir's website and blog.

Shteir is also the author of Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show (2004) and Gypsy: the Art of the Tease (2009).

The Page 99 Test: Gypsy.

The Page 99 Test: The Steal.

Writers Read: Rachel Shteir.

--Marshal Zeringue