Reviewing 'Shoplandia': Shop 'Til Your Credit Cards Drop

If you ever wondered what the inner workings are behind the scenes of the various shopping networks, Shoplandia is for you. A raucous novel resplendent with anecdotes about the machinations of the always striving-to-get-ahead employees of one of our nation's leading capitalistic ventures brought into your home. Today no one has to go to a mall and be malled. No one has to go into a big city to "go shopping." No one has to go to the corner store to pick an item up. With a click of one's TV control, one can shop endlessly for almost everything under this sun and its rays shining all over Europe, Asia, Africa, le monde entier. This home shopping experience is powerful. And so it James Breslin's novel, Shoplandia.

Breslin has been an employee of QVC for 17 years and now steps forward as an author to reveal the secrets of this monstrous capitalistic venture. He writes with wit and a terrific eye for snappy revealing dialogue. He is always aware not to add too many details or too much description to make his point. Chapters address the famous personalities, the gymnastic enthusiasts, the beauty experts, the stars greying at the temples, the inebriated athletes, the motivational speakers as one faux pas happens after the next. Breslin is not mean-spirited; rather he is insightful in his remembrances of things past.

As a new production assistant at Shoplandia, Jake Meecham soon realizes that all the star-studded guests are eager to cash in on the riches at the end of the American Dream of a rainbow. The cast of characters are written with talent and verve by Breslin. And as one laughs through this short and rapid read, one recalls the bonds that form in the work place that often reflect those bonds we have formed within our own family.

While I must say one of the channels I truly hate to watch is anything to do with home shopping, but I have been humbled by a dear friend who allowed me to help her become sober. She had a gambling addiction during which she would drink to the point of drunkenness and shop on QVC till her credit cards dropped. Alas, after getting sober, she lost weight and could no longer wear these garments and gave them to me. And so I have learned to become grateful to home shopping sur le television and also because of James Breslin's delightful novel that has made some semblance of sense out of this bizarre fascination with which our nation is obsessed.