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The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers

By Hillary Carlip
(Virgin Books, Hardcover, 9781905264179, 120pp.)

Publication Date: March 9, 2010

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Description

A comic original in the tradition of Tracey Ullman and Lily Tomlin—with Cindy Sherman's eye—Hillary Carlip transforms herself into America's most unforgettable grocery shoppers. It's happened to all of us—we find, tucked away in the corner of our shopping cart, someone's discarded grocery list. Who's the person buying "Whole milk, heavy cream, ice cream, cheese, and Gas-Ex?" Why would someone need to write down "Coors and Oreos" on a matchbook cover—couldn't he just remember those two items? And what's the person like who scrawled their list on a PROZAC notepad? Taking her clues from the items listed, the types of paper written on, the handwriting, and even misspellings ("Aunt Spray"), Hillary saw that each list—at once mundane and personal—offered an intimate peek into a complete stranger's life. She chose 26 lists and imagined who the shoppers might be. She then transformed herself into all 26 people, one by one, literally stepping into each character—all ages, genders, and ethnicities—with hair, makeup, outfits, and one Fu Manchu. Photographer Barbara Green then captured unforgettable images of Hillary portraying these shoppers at their neighborhood markets. Hillary came to love these characters, so her accompanying stories for each are as poignant and hilarious as the photographs. She brings to life richly imagined inner worlds, including one for macho Woody, a self-described "Lady's Man with NO BANKRUPTCIES ready to meet just one Special Lady with NO KIDS." After getting to know these grocery shoppers through Miss Carlip's dedicated voyeurism, going to the supermarket will never be the same.

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