The Trouble with Brunch
Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure
One of the Globe and Mail's Globe 100: Best Books of 2014
Every weekend, in cities around the world, bleary-eyed diners wait in line to be served overpriced, increasingly outré food by hungover waitstaff. For some, the ritual we call brunch is a beloved pastime; for others, a bedevilling waste of time. But what does its popularity say about shifting attitudes towards social status and leisure? In some ways, brunch and other forms of conspicuous consumption have blinded us to ever-more-precarious employment conditions. For award-winning writer and urbanist Shawn Micallef, brunch is a way to look more closely at the nature of work itself and a catalyst for solidarity among the so-called creative class.
Drawing on theories from Thorstein Veblen to Richard Florida, Micallef traces his own journey from the rust belt to a cosmopolitan city where the evolving middle class he joined was oblivious to its own instability and insularity.
The Trouble with Brunch is a provocative analysis of foodie obsession and status anxiety, but it's also a call to reset our class consciousness. The real trouble with brunch isn't so much bad service and outsized portions of bacon, it's that brunch could be so much more.
'At the crux of it, Micallef's issue with brunch is a lack of self-awareness, and his book is essentially a call to arms to consider the implications of one's actions, even for something as innocuous as meeting friends for eggs and mimosas.'
Praise for Shawn Micallef:
‘As Toronto grows into a more mature, more compelling city, a new group of non-academic, street-smart urbanists has emerged to appreciate it – with-it young writers, architects and men and women about town who love big cities and see things in Toronto that most of us miss. Shawn Micallef is one of the sharpest of this sharp-eyed breed.’
– Globe and Mail
‘A smart and intimate guide to the city that makes you feel like an insider from start to finish.’
– Douglas Coupland [on Stroll]