All posts tagged: Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

In ‘Help Wanted,’ a Satirist of Literary Brooklyn Takes On the Big-Box Store

In ‘Help Wanted,’ a Satirist of Literary Brooklyn Takes On the Big-Box Store

Probably all of us have been inside a place like Town Square location #1512, the fictional big-box store that provides the setting for Adelle Waldman’s new novel, Help Wanted. It’s the kind with colorful seasonal displays and wide aisles, the kind that in the ’80s and ’90s came to signify the peak of American commerce: the convenience of being able to buy baby food, a lawn mower, and a plastic Christmas tree all in one brightly lit, airplane-hangar-size space. It’s surprising, really, that such stores, emblematic of American capitalism as they are, don’t feature prominently in more novels. Waldman’s Town Square seems almost too obviously allegorical. At #1512, empty shelves pockmark the aisles, giving the store a dilapidated feel. “Corporate” (a vague presence) wants store managers to prioritize low budgets above all else, so the managers have concluded that empty shelves are preferable to spending money on workers to stock items. Business has faded, stolen by an unnamed online retail giant. This image of shrinkage evokes the mood of the novel, which takes place in …