Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"The Wal-Mart Effect" Effect

I recently downloaded The Wal-Mart Effect from Audible. It had been calling my name for a while, and I had resisted. It's one of the few times I've been drawn to a book that had absolutely no connection to technology, or spirituality, or any connection to business that would affect me. Finally I decided that it wouldn't kill me to read some non-fiction for sheer enjoyment.

One of the things that intrigues me about the book is the fact that more like it don't exist. Wal-mart had been a behemoth for almost a decade before Charles Fishman came along and wrote such a definitive and balanced book about it. Now he is a regular on all the business-related media -- TV, radio, print, and Internet -- because he's now the default Wal-mart expert. If Wal-Mart rolls out a plan for cut-rate medicines: "Call Fishman and see what he thinks." If Wal-Mart gets shut out of the business-banking sector: "Give Charles a buzz and get a comment." What a swell little niche. It's the kind of thing that makes any self-respecting author slap his forehead with the obviousness of it, wishing they had thought of it first.

The other thing that pulls me is the fact that Fishman is so even-handed in his treatment of Wal-mart. In a cultural climate that is increasingly anti-Wal-mart, its nice that someone can be so smart about it without sucumbing to political rubric. That said, I doubt the directors at Wal-mart are sending him any Christmas cards. While he's not making any mournful noises about the loss of mom-and-pop shops like everyone else, he is raking them over the coals for their treatment of vendors and their environmental impact.

Let's just hope the fun lasts through nine hours of an unabridged audiobook.

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