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. Time Magazine's Best Books of the Year 2013 NPR's Best Books of the Year 2013
Ben Katchor's picture-stories and drawings have appeared in the Forward, Metropolis Magazine, and The New Yorker. His books include: Julius Knipl, real estate photographer, The Beauty Supply District, The Jew of New York and The Cardboard Valise (all Pantheon Books). He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a 2000 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a fellowship at The American Academy in Berlin and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Katchor's libretto and drawings for The Carbon Copy Building, a collaboration with Bang on a Can, received an Obie Award for Best New American Work. More recently, he has collaborated with musician Mark Mulcahy on The Rosenbach Company, a sung-through musical biography of Abe Rosenbach, the preeminent rare-book dealer of the 20th century, The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island, which won an Obie Award in 2008, A Checkroom Romance, a love story about the culture and architecture of the coat-check room and Up From the Stacks, a musical drama set in the New York Public Library. He is an Associate Professor at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.
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