“In this lively collection of essays, Susannah Q. Pratt observes the culture of middle-class consumption from a pause in her own participation. This pause allows her to consider how our lives are ‘both confined and defined’ by that which we own. The resulting meditation on want, need, excess, and garbage asks profound questions about waste, time, and the lost art of thrift.” —Eula Biss, author of Having and Being Had
EastOver Press is proud to announce the publication of a collection of essays, More or Less: Essays from a Year of No Buying, by Susannah Q. Pratt.
The essays in More or Less explore the degree to which we are defined, and confined, by what we own.
In 2018, Pratt and her family decided to buy nothing for a year: “We undertook a 365-day moratorium on the purchase of new clothes, toys, games, books, electronics, gear, furniture, housewares, and other things that fall in the general category of ‘stuff.’ For twelve months we purchased only essentials – food, toiletries, light bulbs, and a few pairs of shoes for my growing boys. We stayed out of stores and off of online shopping sites. We fixed things. We made things. We went without.”
The twenty-one essays in More or Less are much more than the story of that year. Pratt thoughtfully considers what might bring someone to step outside the usual American consumerism, coming to examine the ways in which what we buy and own can change who we are or want to be.
Intertwining scenes of homelife with sustained reflection on notions of utility, disposability, and community, the book addresses the central question of how to live well in a culture of consumerism from which there is no meaningful exit.
“With vivid writing and beautiful imagery, Susannah Q. Pratt has brought the beyond into view, unveiling what was once hidden. The essays in More or Less will open you up and move you, asking you to reach for a promising new way of seeing and therefore being in the world. These essays will give you new ways of thinking and talking about consumerism and late capitalism. Each essay is engaging and beautiful.” —Andrew Root, author of The Grace of Dogs and Churches and the Crisis of Decline
Pratt’s manuscript was selected as a winner of the 2021 EastOver Prize for Nonfiction. Walter M. Robinson, author of What Cannot Be Undone and judge for the prize, said, “It’s not every book that can captivate the imagination with the emotional meaning of a son’s basketball shoes! And who among us does not relate to a couple’s attempt to get a grip on the basement—a tender understanding that the memories held by the objects we own but rarely see may be more powerful than we had thought. I came away from reading this book with a different point of view on the things we fill our lives with.”
Pratt is a Chicago-based writer whose work has appeared in Literary Mama, Motherwell, The Mindful Word, Chicago Parent, Under the Gum Tree, Essay Daily, and The Week, among others. She has also served as a regular contributor to The Waking, the blog at Ruminate Magazine. Pratt, her husband, three children, and two dogs make their home—still full of too much stuff— in Evanston, IL. More or Less is her first book.