Summary from Goodreads: “My adult life can be divided into two distinct parts,” Eula Biss writes, “the time before I owned a washing machine and the time after.” Having just purchased her first home, she now embarks on a roguish and risky self-audit of the value system she has bought into. The result is a radical interrogation of work, leisure, and capitalism. Described by The New York Times as a writer who “advances from all sides, like a chess player,” Biss brings her approach to the lived experience of capitalism. Ranging from IKEA to Beyonce to Pokemon, across bars and laundromats and universities, she asks, of both herself and her class, “In what have we invested?”
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. I enjoyed Biss’s On Immunity immensely when it came out, so I was looking forward to Having and Being Had. However, I just got tired of the quibbling and worrying about “participation” in capitalism, from having a mortgage, to a steady paycheck at a major university (which pays a considerable amount of money), and making money from art, and on and on. I read the short essays between subjects in clinic while waiting for the centrifuge to finish running. Biss can write a sentence, so it was easy to read, but I just quit caring after a while.
Also, why is it that, in a book that is a series of short pieces worrying over participating in a capitalist society, nothing really is said about participating in gentrification? Because it’s kind of obvious from some of the details about the house and neighborhood that the house she and her partner purchased is in a neighborhood that appears to have been a Black community and is now mid-gentrification. There’s an oblique mention about rising interest and predatory reverse-mortgages, but nothing is directly addressed or examined, in my opinion.
Dear FTC: I read a digital galley from the publisher via Edelweiss.