Hand-Drying in America: Book summary and reviews of Hand-Drying in America by Ben Katchor

Hand-Drying in America

And Other Stories

By Ben Katchor

Hand-Drying in America
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2013,
    160 pages.

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Book Summary

From one of the most original and imaginative American cartoonists at work today comes a collection of graphic narratives on the subjects of urban planning, product design, and architecture - a surrealist handbook for the rebuilding of society in the twenty-first century.

Ben Katchor, a master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, now takes on the many ways our property influences and reflects cultural values. Here are window-ledge pillows designed expressly for people-watching and a forest of artificial trees for sufferers of hay fever. The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption deals with the matter of products that outlive their owners; a school of dance is based upon the choreographic motion of paying with cash; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed. With cutting wit Katchor reveals a world similar to our own - lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality - but also slightly, fabulously askew. Frequently and brilliantly bizarre, and always mesmerizing, Hand-Drying in America ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Katchor's universe might be at a 45-degree angle to reality, but it's close enough for his barbs about the modern world's hatred of the past to keep their humorous sting." - Publishers Weekly

"Katchor's wry humor and unique view on the subject are well worth exploring." - Kirkus

"Reminds me of all the reasons I fell in love with his work 20-odd years ago… at the heart of all his work is the same intention: to find, however odd or enigmatic, a moment of real connection in an increasingly surreal world." – Los Angeles Times

"Ben Katchor's new book (his first in full color and I think also his best yet), Hand-Drying in America, furthers his reputation as one of the few geniuses of the form, to say nothing of being one of the first exemplars of what literary fiction told in comics form could be." - Chris Ware

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More Information

Ben Katchor is the author of The Cardboard Valise, The Jew of New York; Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District; and several works of musical theater with the composer Mark Mulcahy. He teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and has contributed to The New Yorker, The Forward, and Metropolis. The first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, he is the subject of the documentary The Pleasures of Urban Decay. He lives in New York.

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