This is an intertwined set of stories based around shopping. But some are quite loosely based. The first story is centered more on a relationship and how one sometimes tiptoes though it, not quite sure how to proceed. The only shopping in it is the good deal on storm windows that preceded the marital spat.
The last story is really abstract in manner - where an apocalypse has caused people to not be able to live outside and they now live in malls, and get buried in luxury cars. The stories in between range between these two bookends - all placed in the same neighborhood.
An interesting read and it's fun to see the same characters circling each other, but in completely different types of tales.
The Final Days of Great American Shopping
Stories Past, Present and Future
University of South Carolina Press
A quirky assortment of materialistic suburbanites trying to supersize and spend their way to happiness.
Gilbert Allen is a master at character development, and the individuals in this collection are no exception. Among them are the childless, emotionally distant couple Butler and Marjory Breedlove; the harried appliance salesman John Beegle and his precocious, pole-dancing daughter Alison; and the one-handed soccer wunderkind Amy Knobloch. Also featured are Ted Dickey, the mastermind of the Mental Defectives self-help book series and the undefeated Speed Dating Champion of the World; Jimmy Scheetz, the pragmatic philanthropist behind Ecumenical Bedding; Ruthella Anderson, a retired first-grade teacher addicted to Star Trek and to extreme couponing; and the mysterious Gabriella, an aging Italian beauty who presides over Doumi Shoes.
Arranged chronologically, the stories span nearly a century. While most are set in the recent past or in the immediate future, the book's title story is set in 2084. It depicts a dystopian shopping mall worthy of George Orwell, John Cheever, or Flannery O'Connor and raises the question, "Can America survive international terrorism, ecological apocalypse, and demographic disaster to morph triumphantly into the USAARP?"