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Sixth & I

Ben Katchor

Apr 16, 2013 • 7:00 pm ET
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The first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship reveals the ways urban planning and architecture influence and reflect cultural values in his new graphic narrative, Hand-Drying in America.

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; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed.

A master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, Katchor reveals a world similar to our own—lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality—but also slightly, fabulously askew. This surrealist handbook for the rebuilding of society in the twenty-first century ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.

Katchor is the author of The Cardboard Valise, The Jew of New York and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District.