May is for Memoirs

It’s memoir madness around here at Chez Book Line and Sinker.  I’ve got a stack of 12 memoirs* on my nightstand–some read, some waiting to be read, and other waiting for reviews.  I’m a huge memoir fan but haven’t ever read this many in a row.  I’ll probably need a heavy dose of ‘beach reads’ when I’m done.  Luckily, my summer break is right around the corner.

I just finished up Retail Hell, the hilarious account of Freeman Hall’s life working the handbag (NOT purse!!) department at The Big Fancy (aka Nordstrom).  Working retail is hellish enough–I spent more than my fair share of time working the register and sales floor–but The Big Fancy ratchets up the horror in a variety of ways.  Customer Service is always a top priority, even if it means letting customers make shady returns, behave erratically, and even verbally assault the employees.

And how did dear Freeman get sucked into the dirty underworld of retail hell?  “In a word: clothes.”

We all have our addictions.  Belgian chocolate.  QVC porcelain dolls.  Crack cocaine.  Mine just happens to involve shirts and pants.  Designer shirts and pants.  And trendy shoes that look hot with them.  No big surprise there.  Young gay guy lured to the dark side by fashion.  It’s not headline news…

Freeman goes on to describe that after scoring a fake ID, he needed some new threads to impress everyone at the clubs. He discovers the lure that hooks most retail slaves into the ‘fold’–The Employee Discount–and there’s no saving him. Freeman has a way with words and the actions of the customers he describes are almost too impossible to fathom–he had me laughing the whole time.  This is a great read for anyone looking to laugh or to have his or her feelings about working retail validated.

I was recently pitched I Suck At Girls, Justin Halpern’s (of Sh*t My Dad Says fame) new book.  I downloaded the sample to my iPad and was rolling with laughter from page one.  Needless to say, that review is on tap for June.

I’m also working on the memoir of an Indian girl who grew up in a very traditional Indian household.  The title of this book slays me: On the Outside Looking Indian. As an adult, Rupinder Gill decides to embark on a year of fulfillment–living out all of the childhood fantasies she was denied by her strict parents.  It’s shaping up to be another good read.

In addition to these three, I have the Steve Jobs book (I know, I know, it’s not a memoir), Jen Lancaster’s newest, and a few others that caught my eye.  I know that memoirs aren’t the most popular genre out there, but ever since reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods a bunch of years ago, I’ve been sold on them.  If you’re not a fan, maybe one of my upcoming reviews will sway you!

Okay, so now I want you to dish:  Have you ever worked retail?  If so, where, and more importantly, how was the discount???

*I also have to biographies in the stack!


  • At 2012.05.23 21:36, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

    I love memoirs too and have tried to figure out some kind of way to feature them I’d join you if I squeeze it in my schedule.

    I have worked retail – I worked at a department store that’s no longer in business. The discount was 20% – not that great unless you scored something you wanted on sale.
    bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last blog post ..Wondrous Words Wednesday

    • At 2012.05.23 22:17, Amy said:

      I’m reading memoirs too this month. Sounds like you’ve read some good ones!

      • At 2012.05.24 12:22, Kari said:

        Hmm…May as Memoir Month…I had no idea! I have a very love/hate relationship with memoirs. I hate the self-indulgent ones where it sounds like the author only likes to hear herself (bc it’s usually a her) talk. On the other hand, I loooove memoirs that enlighten me to a person’s experience at a particular time or place or in a particular moment. If you can tell me, through your experience, about something new (no matter how simple it is) and get me excited to read about it, then you’ve done your job as a memoir author. If you’re just telling the same story you’ve probably blogged about and told all your friends, save it.

        How do you feel about graphic novel memoirs? That’s one of my favorite genres.
        Kari´s last blog post ..Fiction | Why Thirteen Reasons Matter

        • At 2012.05.24 19:36, Vasilly said:

          On the Outside Looking Indian sounds pretty good! I think I’m going to check it out. Yes, I have worked retail. I worked at Montgomery Wards many years ago. It was such a horrible place to work. The discounts were great, the atmosphere not so much.
          Vasilly´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday 2

          • At 2012.05.25 20:52, Jenners said:

            I’m a sucker for memoirs … and the Retail Hell book sounds wonderful. I read the Steve Jobs book and was totally drawn into it. It was fascinating in a way I didn’t expect. Maybe because I lived during the time when all these developments he was responsible came about and it was cool getting to hear why and how things like iPods exist today.
            Jenners´s last blog post ..Norwegian Wood Winner and Song Parody

            • At 2012.05.28 21:44, Christy said:

              Work memoirs like “I Suck at Girls” do intrigue me. I like getting a peek into different jobs and careers. Travel memoirs are a favorite too. Where memoirs often trip up for me is when the author oversells their ‘exotic’ childhood, exaggerating differences in their upbringing which are really not that unique. I don’t think you need to have a very weird life to write a good memoir.
              Christy´s last blog post ..Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

              • At 2012.05.30 11:08, Christy @ The Daily Dish said:

                I love memoirs, Nat, and these sound like good choices.

                PS: Been missing you! So good to have my life back, 😉

                • At 2012.06.21 17:03, Kathleen said:

                  Oh my goodness, I MUST read that book about working in retail. I worked my way through college by working at Montgomery Wards in the cosmetic and then camera department and then at Macy’s. I think my discount at Macy’s was only 15% but I know I had to quit working there because I was spending my whole paycheck on clothes. I was a very well-dressed college student though…ha!
                  Kathleen´s last blog post ..My European Travels

                  • At 2012.06.25 10:42, Melissa said:

                    I LOVE the idea of May as Memoir Month! Hmmm … maybe there’s a way to incorporate that into the Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge (which I have sadly neglected a bit ….)
                    Melissa´s last blog post ..It’s Your Birthday, Carly. You’ve Never Looked So Good.

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