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People who Lunch: essays on work, leisure & loose living
This book is about working and not working, hating work and needing to work, intimacy and technology, money and love, labour and pleasure. Across a series of essays, Sally Olds probes the ambivalent utopias of polyamory, cryptocurrency, clubbing, communes, a secret fraternity, and the essay form itself. Curiosity drives each of these adventures into projected worlds, where Olds explores how living with precariousness changes expectations of how a life can be lived in this thrilling appraisal of the state of things.
Sally Olds is a writer from Queensland living in Naarm/Melbourne. Her work has been published by Sydney Review of Books, un Magazine, AQNB, the Institute of Modern Art, collected in anthologies, and shortlisted for the Griffith Review’s Emerging Voices Competition and the Sydney Review of Books/Copyright Agency’s Emerging Critics Fellowship. She has collaborated extensively with Precog, a club night held in Naarm, and taught writing workshops in and outside of university. This is her first book.
"This is an utterly riveting and original collection of essays – hard-thinking, formally innovative, dazzling intellectually and sentence by sentence out-of-this-world good."
'The Melbourne-based critic’s debut runs a gamut of social scenes (most of them pretty club-heavy): secret societies to art fairs to crypto. Every piece in the collection – subtitled “essays on work, leisure & loose living” – asks you to think harder about the ways we earn money, party, and look out for each other. Olds’ writing is relaxed and direct, driven by sharp intellect and a radiant, unaffected interest in the world around her. With enviable clarity and style, she pares back assumptions about class and sex.
And she is unafraid of taking the scalpel to her own life – questioning, in a riveting essay on polyamory, the political potential we might seize, or miss, in the ways we structure our closest relationships. Another writer once described Olds to me as “very underrated” – this book should sort that out. (Plus: the year’s best cover? I think yes.)'
– Imogen Dewey, Guardian Australia
'A remarkable debut, Sally Olds's People Who Lunch is a collection of essays that delves into secret societies, clubbing, polyamory, the possibility of universal basic income, post-work futures, the perils of half-baked literary criticism, and cryptocurrency – all brilliantly tied together by Olds's humour, intelligence and energy. The result is miraculous.'
— ABC Arts
'It's rare to find new writing this bold and exciting.' — Books+Publishing
' ... unique and refreshing. It probes into some of the most intimate areas of modern society and interrogates our ideals with dazzling skill and brevity.' — Readings Monthly
'Olds’s muted but sustained belief in the possibility and necessity of social change allows her to investigate, with a perceptiveness devoid of cynicism, our clumsy attempts to live out our ideals within a far from ideal world.'
— The Saturday Paper
'Olds brings this unsparing scrutiny informed by rigorous politics to bear on the business of work, writing, clubbing, and the dream of utopia, coolly analysing herself and her milieu ...' — The Age
Cover artwork: Tim Hardy, Idols, 2019. Digital c-print.