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Significant Objectsby Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker
Synopses & Reviews
100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things
Significant Objects: A Literary and Economic Experiment
Can a great story transform a worthless trinket into a significant object? The Significant Objects project set out to answer that question once and for all, by recruiting a highly impressive crew of creative writers to invent stories about an unimpressive menagerie of items rescued from thrift stores and yard sales.
That secondhand flotsam definitely becomes more valuable: sold on eBay, objects originally picked up for a buck or so sold for thousands of dollars in total — making the project a sensation in the literary blogosphere along the way.
But something else happened, too: The stories created were astonishing, a cavalcade of surprising responses to the challenge of manufacturing significance. Who would have believed that random junk could inspire so much imagination?
The founders of the Significant Objects project, that's who. This book collects 100 of the finest tales from this unprecedented creative experiment; you'll never look at a thrift-store curiosity the same way again.
FEATURING ORIGINAL STORIES BY: Chris Adrian • Rob Agredo • Kurt Andersen • Rachel Axler • Rob Baedeker • Nicholson Baker • Rosecrans Baldwin • Matthew Battles • Charles Baxter • Kate Bernheimer • Susanna Breslin • Kevin Brockmeier • Matt Brown • Blake Butler • Meg Cabot • Tim Carvell • Patrick Cates • Dan Chaon • Susanna Daniel • Adam Davies • Kathryn Davis • Matthew De Abaitua • Stacey • D'Erasmo • Helen DeWitt • Doug Dorst • Mark Doty • Ben Ehrenreich • Mark Frauenfelder • Amy Fusselman • William Gibson • Myla Goldberg • Ben Greenman • Jason Grote • Jim Hanas • Jennifer Michael Hecht • Sheila Heti • Christine Hill • Dara Horn • Shelley Jackson • Heidi Julavits • Ben Katchor • Matt Klam • Wayne Koestenbaum • Josh Kramer • Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer • Neil LaBute • Victor LaValle • J. Robert Lennon • Jonathan Lethem • Todd Levin • Laura Lippman • Mimi Lipson • Robert Lopez • Joe Lyons • Sarah Manguso • Merrill Markoe • Tom McCarthy • Miranda Mellis • Lydia Millet • Maud Newton • Annie Nocenti • Stephen O'Connor • Stewart O'Nan • Jenny Offill • Gary Panter • Ed Park • James Parker • Benjamin Percy • Mark Jude Poirier • Padgett Powell • Bob Powers • Todd Pruzan • Dan Reines • Nathaniel Rich • Peter Rock • Lucinda Rosenfeld • Greg Rowland • Luc Sante • R.K. Scher • Toni Schlesinger • Matthew Sharpe • Jim Shepard • David Shields • Marisa Silver • Curtis Sittenfeld • Bruce Sterling • Scarlett Thomas • Jeff Turrentine • Deb Olin Unferth • Tom Vanderbilt • Matthew J. Wells • Joe Wenderoth • Margaret Wertheim • Colleen Werthmann • Colson Whitehead • Carl Wilson • Cintra Wilson • Sari Wilson • Douglas Wolk • John Wray
"Like a Salvation Army staffed by brilliant writers" GalleyCat
"To those who don't believe in the transcendent power of a good story... behold: the Significant Objects project." AdWeek.com
"One of the most life-affirmingly cheeky studies I have seen for ages." The Guardian
"Significant Objects is an incredibly fun, if curious, success, one that toys with the disparity between an object's financial and emotional values, and speaks to our wonderfully human propensity to believe in nonsense." Good magazine
"Finding magic in unexpected things." NPR's All Things Considered
"The short stories are lovely. Some allude to an object's brush with fame; others suggest heartache, loneliness and the occasional bar fight. Each story casts a strange spell on the objects, and on our perception of them." The Economist's More Intelligent Life
"Significant Objects combines one of the oldest of all media — the near-improvised short story — with the reinvigorated writer-reader relationship afforded by Web 2.0." The Independent of London's Couch Surfer
Collects the results of a literary experiment in which a best-selling or popular author wrote a short fictional prose story about an object on eBay, raising its value; the profit from the object's sale then went to charity.
Significant Objects began in 2009 as a bold online inquiry into the relationship between narrative and the value of everyday objects. It has been the subject of speculation by everyone from NPR to litbloggers to the New York Times' Freakonomics crew. Some theorized about the project's hypothesis, others about its methods and results. Others just wanted to know if there would be a book collection. The answer is yes. A collection of one hundred Significant Objects stories will be published in hardcover by Fantagraphics.
This represents the latest plot twist yet to the story of a very unlikely project that began as an experiment, turned into an experimental literary magazine secretly published on eBay, and currently raises money for youth tutoring nonprofits.
Founded by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker, SignificantObjects.com has published an extraordinary series of 200 stories and counting — by William Gibson, Curtis Sittenfeld, Sheila Heti, Colson Whitehead, Nicholson Baker, Meg Cabot, Gary Panter, Ben Katchor, Lydia Millet, Jonathan Lethem, and other talented writers — about ordinary stuff like novelty items, discarded souvenirs, and tasteless kitchenware picked up cheap at thrift stores and yard sales. The goal: To see if commissioning great stories about these insignificant things would increase their value — as measured in actual eBay auctions.
The experiment, in short, was a smash hit. As will be the Significant Objects book, which features 100 moving, absurd, surprising, and always entertaining stories from the project's three volumes. It will change the way you look at things, forever.
100 EXTRAORDINARY STORIES ABOUT ORDINARY THINGS
About the Author
Joshua Glen is a Boston-based journalist, editor, and cultural semiotics analyst. He cofounded the critical-cultural zine Hermenaut in the 1990s, the website HiLobrow.com and has been a columnist for the Boston Globe. He edited the nonfiction collection Taking Things Seriously (2007) and coauthored, with Mark Kingwell, The Idler's Glossary (2008).
Rob Walker writes the business and anthropology column "Consumed" for the New York Times magazine. He is the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, and his work has appeared in many media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal to the New Republic, from GQ to public radio program Marketplace.
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