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The top paperback books for this month include works by Margaret Atwood, Curtis Sittenfeld, and other authors.

The top paperback books for this month include works by Margaret Atwood, Curtis Sittenfeld, and other authors.

Nothing Special Nicole Flattery

Inside Warhol’s Factory

The story Nothing Special takes place in the messy and unconventional setting of Andy Warhol’s Factory studio. It is set in 1966, a time when the studio was becoming a prominent artistic and cultural presence. Mae, a seventeen-year-old who dropped out of school, and her new friend, fellow Factory worker Shelley, fit in with the disillusioned and unfeeling women in Flattery’s short stories. They understand the barriers placed on female experiences, but feel too disenchanted to try and break free from them. They long for importance, yet struggle to find a way to achieve it.

As Warhol’s famous individuals – Ondine, Susan, and Edie – relax on soft couches made of viscose and move from one party to another, they gossip about each other and offer occasional smiles, frowns, or tears for the camera. However, in contrast, Mae and Shelley are actively engaged in tangible work that can be easily recognized. While their workplace may be chaotic and decorated with “insane silver paper” that is tacky and peeling, they approach their jobs with efficiency and a lack of enthusiasm, maintaining regular work hours. They sit at their desks, put on their headphones, and listen before typing away.

The Factory’s 24-hour recording project captures every conversation, sound, and action that occurred within its walls. Secretaries Mae and Shelley were responsible for meticulously transcribing the recordings, from the smallest creak to the tiniest sniffle. This project, which resulted in the publication of A: A Novel in 1968 under Warhol’s name, was originally their special assignment after working as general secretaries. Interestingly, the typists who brought the idea to fruition were not given credit, and two of the four women involved remain unidentified.

Flattery introduces her two main characters, Mae and Shelley, into a gap in history. They are not special or important, but they were present at the Factory and listened to the powerful people. They were involved in the project and had their own lives outside of the Factory. As Mae transcribes the events, she begins to include more of herself in the book, showing how being in the presence of powerful egos affects a person. Flattery gives these egos a chance to tell their own story, with Mae and Shelley representing their own versions.

“The book is available for the discounted price of £9.29 at the Guardian bookshop, with a retail price of £9.99.”

Source: theguardian.com