|Sample from Bombing Starbucks, Chapter Fourteen|
Malls are landscapes of chaotic release. They are zones where the cultural planners warehouse leftover noise and flash; they are areas carefully organized to contain and direct the pointless energy of a nation of brand-new teenagers discovering piercings and brand name clothing and sexual urges for the first time; they are wondrous galaxies, huge stellar systems, every point within them a flashpoint, a site, hot and active, where the thousand and one mild dissatisfactions and confusions of adult life can be transmuted into an invisible whorl of alchemical flame and one singular perfect new belonging.
The cheery faces on the cheery televisons mounted high above the concourse are making helpful suggestions. Molecular clusters of children—maybe not children, but human beings younger than Samantha, anyway—collide, form temporary compounds, explode into giggles, trade members, split off from one another, reel away in opposite directions. A Range Rover sits beneath three interlocking arcs made of balloons linked together. There are sculptors going at six-foot high blocks of ice with power saws. The air around them is a brilliant, swirling haze of flying ice dust. Samantha smells popcorn, then coffee, then cotton candy. Then the chemical stench of nail polish remover (from Pedicure Palace, three doors down.) The audioanimatronic Tyrannosaurus roars and snaps with the exact same fluid lunge it used yesterday. Something in a magician’s hand explodes into green light.
Samantha knows—it must be true—that somewhere in the world there is a point where all of this money runs out, that somewhere there is a culture of slavery that all of this abundance is built upon, that there are whole nations of people working in factories to create this wealth of things, human beings chained to sewing machines with armed guards marching on catwalks above them, it must be true, there must be a place in the world that receives shipments of all the trash generated by this mall, by this town, her town, she knows that must be a hole in the earth somewhere filling with all of this waste, she knows all of these things, learned them in school and understood them and registered her disapproval, but in here, actually in the mall, deep in this labyrinth of clamor and light, she can’t think about those things, she has trouble holding them in her mind for more than a solid second.