Insatiable Appetites: Twentieth-Century American Women's Bestsellers

By Madonne M. Miner | Go to book overview
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5
Scruples: "It's as Addictive as Chocolate"

Scruples is a chocolate eclair.

-- Judith Krantz, New York Times Book Review

We created a series of important reasons centered around food to come to Macy's.

-- Arthur Reiner, president of NYC Macy's

Twelve years separate the publication of Jacqueline Susann Valley of the Dolls ( 1966) and Judith Krantz Scruples ( 1978): twelve years of kaleidoscopic cultural change in America. For a comparative understanding of the two women's bestsellers, however, we need isolate only one aspect of this change--a transformation in the activity of shopping. No longer the simple exchange of money for goods, "New Shopping" of the 1970's becomes an act of participatory engagement, of visual and sensual play. Customers do not merely look at the "Disneyland-cute, adult-scale 'street of shops' at Bendel's and Macy's"; they play in them. Similarly, they cannot stroll passively through the chic eateries and snazzy cafés of Bloomingdale's; these environments demand an active response. 1 Within dramatically decorated arenas of "New Stores," shoppers perform and watch the performance of others; they see and are seen as they engage in acts of consumption. It is this activity that structures Krantz's bestseller; where Susann emphasizes the result of heroine Jennifer North's many shopping sprees (Jen's closets cannot contain her purchases), Krantz focuses on the spree itself, on the activity of consuming.

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