Spent is a memoir about my personal struggle with shopping addiction.
It follows me from my earliest shopping experience—a trip to downtown Brooklyn’s A&S with my grandmother to buy a pair of bell-bottoms—and culminates, many years later, with one of my rock bottom moments: a trip to Zara to purchase a pair of tobacco-coloured cords with my last twenty dollars. In between, I rode the roller-coaster of compulsive shopping behaviour. I bought things I neither wanted nor needed, and credit card debt bloomed like the ever-increasing pile of unworn shoes and clothing in the back of my closet. At some point, I realized I was no longer consuming; I was just being consumed.
Spent is also the story of a city: New York in the 1990’s and at the turn of the millennium. It is largely set to the tom-tom beat of New York in the age of “irrational exuberance,” luxury label fever, “it” girls with “it” bags, and lots and lots of shopping. Working in the fashion industry during this time gave me opportunity to indulge in the lifestyle where: fashion was the drug at the end of the millennium and shopping its handmaiden
I did eventually leave my shopping addiction behind… but not before I learned what was fuelling it: mainly, grief over my mother’s untimely death. When I realized that my shopping was less about that pair of black Balenciaga pants and more about trying to avoid unpleasant emotions, is when I began to get better.
Spent is a deeply personal story that chronicles my addiction, how I questioned and confronted it, and the path to recovery. It chronicles the past three decades and the rise of easy credit, mall culture, hyperconsumption, and our cultural dependence on defining ourselves by our possessions.
In the years since I’ve tackled my shopping addiction, I am, in fact, a much happier and healthier shopper.
Spent is the story of how I got there.
“These are the confessions of a real shopaholic, riveting to read and painfully self-aware. Avis Cardella speaks truth to power–the power of delusional thinking that is peculiarly female in nature. As in: Never mind that I’m already 20 grand in Visa debt, I desperately need that Prada suit to make my life-to make ME-perfect. If this sounds scarily familiar, what you need even more desperately is a copy of Spent, right now.” (author of I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage Susan Squire )
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.