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Cigarette Lighter
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Jack Pendarvis
Cigarette Lighter by Jack Pendarvis at Abbey's Bookshop,

Cigarette Lighter

Jack Pendarvis


Bloomsbury Academic USA

Philosophy: aesthetics;
Material culture;
Media studies


152 pages

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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Smokers, survivalists, teenagers, collectors.... The cigarette lighter is a charged, complex, yet often entirely disposable object that moves across these various groups of people, acquiring and emitting different meanings while always supplying its primary function, that of ignition. While the lighter may seem at first a niche object-only for old fashioned cigarette smokers-in this book Jack Pendarvis explodes the lighter as something with deep history, as something with quirky episodes in cultural contexts, and as something that dances with wide ranging taboos and traditions. Pendarvis shows how the lighter tarries with the cheapest ends of consumer culture as much as it displays more profound dramas of human survival, technological advances, and aesthetics.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in the The Atlantic.

By:   Jack Pendarvis
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Academic USA
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 165mm,  Width: 121mm,  Spine: 13mm
Weight:   143g
ISBN:   9781501307362
ISBN 10:   1501307363
Series:   Object Lessons
Pages:   152
Publication Date:   March 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Author Website:

Jack Pendarvis has published essays, book reviews, interviews and stories in McSweeney's, The LA Review of Books, and the New York Times. He is a former columnist for The Believer and The Oxford American and is the author of two books of short stories and a novel. He recently received an Emmy for his work on the Peabody Award-winning show Adventure Time.

I didn't realize how much I needed this book. It brought back terrible memories of an uncle dead in Vietnam, nothing but his Zippos to imagine him by, and the beautiful boy who broke my heart, leaving me with a carpenter pencil and a tiny lighter I could hang from my keychain (though I never did; that would have been much too painful). And that's just the start! Cigarette Lighter is worth it for the index alone, but there's so much more. Like this gem: 'Your cigarette lighter represents your soul, so you get drunk and give it away to your pal, or your pal steals it without compunction. Either way, you can't hang onto it forever.' Ah, such is life. * Mary Miller, author of The Last Days of California * This book is a Zippo fueled by the remarkable mind of Jack Pendarvis. A blend of histories-movies and TV, war and cars-Cigarette Lighter is so good I took up smoking. * Chris Offutt, author of My Father, the Pornographer * Cleverly disguising itself as a Rabelaisian account of the cigarette lighter in our films and in our lives, this raucous object lesson takes as its real subject, the indefatigable Ted Ballard-octogenarian, curator of the former National Lighter Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma, collector, misanthrope, raconteur, and consummate charmer-and becomes, in the end, a sly meditation on impermanence, wherein, in the words of Jack Pendarvis, the lighter finds out what the match already knows. * Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted *

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