Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, Margaret Atwood (2008)

9780747598718More than a year since reading David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years, my head’s still spinning trying to come to grips with the concept of debt, which once seemed very simple to me and now seems deeply nebulous. Just recently, I was trying to recommend that book to a friend and found myself unable even to explain what it was “about.”

Atwood’s book, which started as a series of lectures and reads very conversationally, might be a better place to start than Graeber. It’s not nearly as detailed or researched, and there’s a much lower ratio of mindblowers-per-page, but it’s also far more approachable and comprehensible.

Unsurprisingly, Atwood’s particularly good at exploring the ways debt appears in literature, with shrewd and lively analyses of Middlemarch, Faust, and — of course — Dickens, particularly A Christmas Carol.

Breezy, smart, recommended.

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