A unique and quirky exploration of the stories and meanings behind the everyday objects that shape our lives
From combs and keys to sweets and handkerchiefs, certain objects, though seemingly mundane, can have a magical quality, and an often surprising power to arouse, absorb, disturb, or soothe.Take bags, for example. Why do most women carry handbags, while men rely on pockets? Why do so many houses have bags of bags? And why do we'let the cat out the bag'or'give someone the sack'? What significance do our bags hold for us?Imaginatively and entertainingly, Steven Connor embarks on a historical, philosophical and linguistic journey that explores our relationships with the curious things with which we have a forgotten but daily intimacy.
Steven Connor is professor of modern literature and theory at Birkbeck College. He is also academic director of the London Consortium inter-disciplinary graduate programme in humanities and cultural studies. He is the author of several academic books (on subjects ranging from the English novel to ventriloquism) and contributes regularly to print media and radio. This is his first general book.
'Steven Connor is among the most eloquent and original cultural critics at work today... who can apparently write about anything, no matter how mundane, and make it seem rich and strange', Brian Dillon, editor of Cabinet magazine and author of Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives, Daily Telegraph
'A marvellously clever, riddling, infectiously playful book. It brims over with all the pleasure of button box and gallimaufry. Steven Connor has written a love letter to the familiar objects with which we spend our time, and daily life is much the richer for it.', Alexandra Harris, author of Romantic Moderns
'Who would have thought that fishing at the back of a desk drawer or the bottom of a handbag could reel in such treasures? As with any good book on material culture Connor refuses the natural humility of everyday stuff such as sellotape, rubber bands and buttons, and shows how much we gain by paying them close attention and appreciating how they came to be there and their continued supportive role in our lives. These are the blindingly obvious objects that we never see precisely because they are in front of our noses. Thanks to this book fidgeting will be a far more thoughtful occupation in the future.', Daniel Miller, Professor of Material Culture, UCL
'Connor has a nimble wit and fresh eye', Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
'Ingenious, whimsical, imaginative and entertaining, this is a magical little book; a pleasurable and fidgetable stimulus to the mind.', Iain Finlayson, The Times
'Recommended... Readers will enjoy Connor on the"eroticism of rubber", the fascination of pipe-smoking, the joy of fidgeting and the relationship between spectacles and the existential drama of"self-invention".', New Statesman
'A critic and essayist of exceptional tact and daring... a writer who can seemingly conjure the profoundest insights out of the most minute or mundane topics... fascinating... witty and charming.', Brian Dillon, Guardian
'Urbane, witty and seductive... challenging and often enchanting', Michael Bywater, Independent
'My holiday read... I'm intrigued because I sometimes think the little things we surround ourselves with and barely notice are as important as the huge things we obsess about.', Sean French of the duo Nicci French, Press Association
'The book's beauty lies in this consideration of detail and specifics and the re-imagination of seemingly mundane objects.', Sophie Woodward, THES