This is a quirky book, from an admittedly quirky author. It’s about Barry Yourgrau's attempt to clean up his apartment. He isn't sure if he's a hoardeThis is a quirky book, from an admittedly quirky author. It’s about Barry Yourgrau's attempt to clean up his apartment. He isn't sure if he's a hoarder or not, he likes to think he's just a messy collector, but when his girlfriend comes to visit and can't get into the door because of all the stuff, well something has to be done. So begins The Project. Yourgrau has a tendency to desperately try connecting himself to almost anything, which is an unnecessary part of the narrative. Like the Collyer brothers, famous hoarders that lived in New York City until their demise in 1947. And there are more fleeting aspects than they both live in New York.
The girlfriend's name changes several times throughout the book, and her mother's as well near the end. It's just a distraction. There are bits of extraneous information everywhere. Most of the parts with the girlfriend aren’t necessary to the story, but if you think of the book as a memoir, then it works better. Yourgrau early on talks about how distracted he gets, so this extra fluff is really part of who he is ultimately.
Yourgrau visits therapists and support groups, like Clutterers Anonymous and investigates other places of hoarders and the people who help them clear their stuff. Of course the television shows of hoarders are mentioned, how could it not? Yourgrau is particularly bent on comparing his problem of stuff with others, often pictures are mentioned but none are provided in the book. Yourgrau definitely has emotional issues tied to his things, and most particularly Father issues, which is explored in the book, as part of The Project.
Overall it is very readable, and interesting to a degree. The writing style and approach is cutesy and a can be annoying at times. Near the end the point of view changes, jarring, unnecessary, but I suppose adds to the quirky distracting nature of the overall book. This is not a book to read to try to fix your own problem, no, it's more just one man's tale of what his experience with his stuff and his life, or how his life affected him to accumulate stuff. And how he de-cluttered, cleaned up. The subtitle really does explain what the book is about. If you want a book to help you declutter your life look elsewhere, but if you're fascinated by the topic this is a good enough read.
One of the most poignant quotes gleaned from the book, a quote from someone else, Susan Pearce an "expert on collecting", she said: "Souvenirs are lost youth, lost friends, lost past happiness; they are the tears of things."
Public shaming has been a useful tool for Twitter. I'm not a follower so I can't comment too much on what goes on there. Seems like these days of instPublic shaming has been a useful tool for Twitter. I'm not a follower so I can't comment too much on what goes on there. Seems like these days of instant communication allows for public shaming on a level that wasn't happening before, or at least instantaneous reactions. As a society shamming has been used as a way of keeping people within norms, and changing them, so it's not something we want to go away completely. But what is Ronson's point anyway?
Have we taken things too far? It's hard to say, but some of the examples in Ronson's book seems like some of the public shamming have been harsh for the "crimes" committed. And it isn't consistently applied either. A few of the people lost their jobs and much more over a poorly made joke. He does point out that men who get attacked usually lose their jobs, while women seem to get death or rape threats. The do lose their job as well, but the threat of violence doesn't happen towards men as much. Hmmm....
The book is very interesting but doesn't come to any conclusions or really an overall point. Some of what Ronson chooses to look into are a little odd, and somewhat detract from the powerful stories he started the book with. I'm not sure Ronson had a point to begin with, maybe it seemed like just a good journalist idea to look into, starting with his own experiences. But where it ends up isn't satisfying, for me at least. Despite that, it was, and is, worth reading. ...more
The book freaked me out when I read it. I had a hard time sleeping for a while, even though I lived in an urban area. Did I believe the story? I was sThe book freaked me out when I read it. I had a hard time sleeping for a while, even though I lived in an urban area. Did I believe the story? I was skeptical, but it seemed very believable. Perhaps yes. Today do I believe it? Well, no. Perhaps it was his vivid imagination, or just a good story to tell. ...more
A book to refute the irrationality of the dumb-think of "all you need to do is think positive and all it will be" that we keep encountering in pop-psyA book to refute the irrationality of the dumb-think of "all you need to do is think positive and all it will be" that we keep encountering in pop-psychology, business empowerment, and well, almost anywhere. Let's add some rational thought to our lives. Yes, be hopeful, but not blind. Thank you Ehrenreich!...more