Friday, July 16, 2010


Publisher's Summary. As a child, Avis Cardella devoured the glamorous images in her mother's fashion magazines. She grew up to be one of the people in them, living a life that seemed to be filled with labels and luxury. But shopping had become a dangerous addiction. She forwent food for Prada. Credit card debt blossomed like the ever-increasing pile of unworn shoes and clothing in the back of her closet. She defined herself by the things she owned and also lost herself in the mad hunt for the perfect pair of pants or purse that might make her feel whole.

Spent is Avis Cardella's timely, deeply personal, and shockingly dramatic exploration of our cultural need to spend, and of what happens when someone is consumed by the desire to consume.

Review. Shopaholism in fiction is fun to read, but in real life it is no joke. Author Avis Cardella is a self-confessed reformed shopaholic. In the memoir Spent, Cadella details her decades long addiction to purchasing designer goods that she couldn’t afford.

When Cardella was growing up she idolized the images in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She longed to look like the models in the fashion pages. This was both good and bad. The positive aspect of her fashion lust is that it led to a career as a fashion photography commentator. The negative aspect drove her to continually prowl the aisles of Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman for the latest designer goods. And after her mother’s untimely passing her shopaholism really spun out of control as a way to avoid her grief.

Spent is a sad tale, but not a particularly interesting one. While Cardella does a decent job of describing her constant shopping trips after awhile they all blended together. I suppose part of my lack of interest had to do with the lack of drama (e.g. she became homeless or passed on critical surgery to go shopping). I admit this is probably shallow, but I like my tales of redemption to include deep valleys and tall summits. The lowest Cardella sinks is giving magazines as Christmas gifts to her family; eating the same food every week (because she knew how much it cost); and skipping necessary dermatology treatment. This is not exactly fodder for a compelling Lifetime movie.

Spent is a sincere, but largely unremarkable memoir.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (May 14, 2010), 272 pages.
Advance review copy provided courtesy of the publisher.

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