Cornershop Book Review #3: Shelf Life

In which we look at the Corner Shop in ‘literature’…
In the interests of academic research and a more interesting blogsite, we have recently taken to reading the odd book whilst propping up the counter. Not any old pulp fiction, we’ll have you know: there are strict criteria. The book must be about shop life. We wanted to know how the corner shopkeeper is being portrayed out there, and set the record straight if necessary. This exercise is also, of course, a very good way of lending gravitas to the shopkeeper’s image….
Synopsis: This book is largely autobiographical: author Simon Parke gives up his calling as a vicar and rejoins the rat-race. Aware of the need to earn a crust and in some desperation, he takes a job at a local supermarket. And that is the extent of the plot. BUT. It somehow manages to combine enough action, intrigue and comment to be completely unputdownable. We meet the full panoply of supermarket staff, from the religious zealot to the lascivious shelf stacker to the insecure security guard, stitched together by Si’s funny, warm and poignant observations on life, the universe and shelf-stacking. Think Zen and the Art of Motorbike Maintenance (link included for those of you who are not closet or real hippies), add a lot more humour and a crisper writing style, and make it 100% relevant to British society today and you’ll have some idea of what it’s all about.
Real Shop Cred: 10/10 on the credometer. It is set in a real shop, and written by a real shelf stacker. It doesn’t get any more real than that. We empathise with the day to day joys and frustrations of shop work, and recognise the bonhomie and back-stabbing amongst the staff. We know the customer types of which the author writes, and, work in a shop or not, we’ve all seen the self-important supermarket managerial type strutting the aisles. This should be made the official shelf-stackers handbook. End of.
Buy, borrow or avoid: Oh buy, buy buy. Buy it for all your friends too. At £7 or so on Amazon, you can shove it in their Christmas stockings. Even if you have no interest in the machinations within your local supermarket, this book has so much more to offer. All life is there. The book is studded with little snippets of true joy and undeniable wisdom. Truly, it is one of the best books we have read in aaaages.