The Comfort of Things

The Comfort of Things

Daniel Miller

Language: English

Pages: 300

ISBN: 074564404X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The diversity of contemporary London is extraordinary, and begs to be better understood. Never before have so many people from such diverse backgrounds been free to mix and not to mix in close proximity to each other. But increasingly people's lives take place behind the closed doors of private houses. How can we gain an insight into what those lives are like today? Not television characters, not celebrities, but real people. How could one ever come to know perfect strangers?
Danny Miller attempts to achieve this goal in this brilliant exposé of a street in modern London. He leads us behind closed doors to thirty people who live there, showing their intimate lives, their aspirations and frustrations, their tragedies and accomplishments. He places the focus upon the things that really matter to the people he meets, which quite often turn out to be material things, the house, the dog, the music, the Christmas decorations. He creates a gallery of portraits, some comic, some tragic, some cubist, some impressionist, some bleak and some exuberant.
We find that a random street in modern London contains the most extraordinary stories. Mass murderers and saints, the most charmed Christmas since Fanny and Alexander and the story of how a CD collection helped someone overcome heroin. Through this sensitive reading of the ordinary lives of ordinary people, Miller uncovers the orders and forms through which people make sense of their lives today. He shows just how much is to be gained when we stop lamenting what we think we used to be, and instead concentrate on what we are becoming now. He reveals above all the sadness of lives and the comfort of things.

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met the strange wizard figure holding a crystal globe with purple light, flickering in lines that splay out around the inside of the glass. The tree lights pulse off and on, and above them is a lighted star. Other figures sway, turn in circles, jump up and down; but, again, this is mere background. Because, after switching on a dozen figures – some of which respond, others of which have run out of battery – we turn to Marcia’s latest purchase that, placed on top of her dresser, effortlessly dominates

her own son’s wedding, at which she wore a dress and shawl made by her aunt and worn by her mother. Now it is more that there is always something of her mother’s about her when she goes to various functions – be it a handbag or a scarf. Such things bring the dead and the living into a state of immediacy with each other. So, thanks to the clothes, she can serve her mother again: ‘you find ways to bring her into social ways and events and family events and of giving her a good time’. The completion

spectrum. But then I sometimes think I am qualified to work on home interiors, because of my almost complete absence of skill in appreciating taste in such matters. With such little confidence in my own taste, I can examine these objects more with a sense of awe than condescension. Typical was my response to another rug, grey and crisscrossed. Donald was working for a major firm, which hired its own named designers. In fact he had worked closely with this designer for some time, discussing in detail

is himself testimony to the possibility of survival. He now helps others, tells them to be strong, that they can climb out of depression, that the high walls that surround them on every side have small fault lines which can support a hand or foot if you are only willing to make that climb. As he did. Not everyone listens, and many simply can’t make the escape. Most of his friends are dead from the drug. But some have come up, and in some cases he knows his example mattered. It’s not that he is

circumspection. She may say something substantial in reply to a question, or she may just return the enquiry with a non-committal ‘mmmmm’, in a tone that suggests she has properly considered the point but, for now, we should move on to the next. Ideally, the art of Shi consists in doing nothing much at all. If one has calculated, planned and positioned, action itself should barely be necessary. In some cases, when Pauline contemplates the forces that might have laid waste to their house, she can

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