"The sliding doors of a supermarket open into a dilemma: Though one may find comfort in the grocery store’s order and abundance..."
"... its high stakes can also provoke anxiety—after all, this is the place where we trade hard-earned money for sustenance. 'Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip,' Don DeLillo’s narrator Jack Gladney observes in White Noise, commenting on the structure that supermarkets, with their rows of neatly ordered products, impose on his chaotic life. Thirty years later, Halle Butler’s protagonist in the novel Jillian enters a gourmet grocery store on a whim.... The prices are so out of her budget that she has to give herself a pep talk before buying anything. 'I mean, I work all the time,' she mutters. 'This is why I work, isn’t it? I’m a hard worker. I can buy this cheese. It’s just cheese, I guess.' But it’s not just cheese...."
Writes J. Howard Rosier in "The Indignity of Grocery Shopping/In her latest work to be translated into English, Annie Ernaux examines the malaise of the modern supermarket" (The Atlantic).
"In the latest of her books to be translated into English, Annie Ernaux, the 2022 Nobel laureate in literature, takes the big-box store as her subject.... Though she’s not without empathy, Ernaux is brutal in her appraisal of other customers.... Everyone has a place in the store, so long as they know their place in the store. Ernaux spotlights the considerations that people—especially those on the margins—make when engaging in the mundane, necessary action of grocery shopping... Contrasting a stray shopping list left in a cart with one’s own, as Ernaux does, might strike some simply as nosiness; but seeing oneself in another’s choices is radical in its quiet way...."