Another broken trend-reading a U.S. book! (Can you believe it?)
Sometimes people need to store items, and they don't have a garage or attic or extra rooms. So, they rent a little room in a tin warehouse-like building. Some rentals have air-conditioning, but Flan seems to go to places that don't have AC.
I have recently seen a lot of ads in the local newspaper for self-storage auctions. The items listed are not exotic: furniture, bags of items, boxes full of items. I always look for any mention of books, but I never find it.
The ads make me a little sad. Did those people's homes not survive the 'Kane and did they forget about them? Did they run out of money paying for home repairs or rents or live in a FEMA trailer, with no hope of having a decent-sized space in the near future?
Well, the story told in Self-Storage is from the opposite viewpoint, from a buyer of self-storage contents. Flan has sales every weekend to help support her family. Her husband is studying for his Ph.D., and they have two small children. Going to auctions and selling the items (including eBay.com) gives her the flexibility that she needs to pay some bills.
She creates many families; her own (with funny, foodie nicknames), the other auction members (who are not vicious), her fellow married-graduate student housing friends, and Walt Whitman (encouraging her through his poems).
Flan wants to go to college, but everything is on hold until her husband finishes his works.
Riverside, CA is not the idyllic West Coast city that is seen on television and movies. If you are not rich, it is a struggle to live there, especially in the summer heat.
One time, she bids on a unit that has only one box. She tracks down the owner, as is instructed. When they meet, she cuts the lady's hair. She thinks "this is the float and odor of hair. I remembered when my high school boyfriend hit a pheasant with his truck on our way out of Cleveland; feathers exploded into the air like earth-toned fireworks.."
So realistic; when I am thinking, I also have weird train of thoughts.
Events in the housing units cause Flan to become more involved with her neighbors.
This book is also a commentary on the post-9-11 legislation. Many of the international students are not terrorists, but some are treated like that.
I did enjoy reading this book. It was a fun book. Some of the events are too coincidental, but I will accept that. It does not drone on and on (one of my complaints about recent novels).
If you are a Walt Whitman fan, you will appreciate how Flan really takes his words to heart.has information about Self Storage and her other works.