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book review

The dramatic death of Sears Canada was one of the biggest Canadian business stories of last year – and a human story, with the loss of thousands of jobs. In Malled, Kit Dobson asks why the mall, recently marked by such notable closings, isn't a Canadian culture story, too. Why are these spaces not widely reflected in literature, music and film? (One recent exception is the title story in Dina Del Bucchia's Don't Tell Me What to Do, fixated as its narrator is on West Edmonton Mall.)

Dobson begins from a place of deep aversion – Malled's introduction opens, "I started this book because I hated the mall" – but at the same time, he wants to give Canadian malls, from Montreal's Underground City to Whitehorse's Wal-Mart, their due. It's a difficult balance, and some readers may find he doesn't come down strongly enough one way or the other.

Where Dobson is at his best is analyzing the concrete, whether reading Calgary's CrossIron Mills or Gary Burns's 2000 film waydowntown. An important start on a subject that has received surprisingly little attention in Canada.

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