I remember reading a short story at least twenty years ago about a man who spends a lot of money to rent a hovel because there is no advertising in it. During any normal day everything advertises to him, but in this room he can find some peace. I think he risks a death sentence, though...


I t was "The Room" I could vaguely remember the story up to where he rented the room, but then I couldn't remember the rest. Now I know that's because there was no rest.

Some time ago my wife complained about advertising and I told her we still had it pretty good, and mentioned the story I had once read. I said I'd try to find it.

Thanks Gabe Willard, and all the others who posted.


It's Ray Russell. Published in Playboy (next to an ad, I imagine) in 1961 under the title "The Room". Just read it today. Short, sweet and freaky - subliminal sleep advertising, auto-on television, in-mirror ads, ads on towels and sheets, even money... Don't wanna spoil it for you - so SPOILER!

He doesn't risk a death sentence... BUT, he gets 1984ed, because the room without ads is just a front for "rehabilitation".


Could it be 1984? The main characters rent a flat without a screen (and hence no Big Brother watching). Not advertising, but they do get up to stuff 'deserving' of the death sentence.

  • 1
    This is exactly what came into my mind. Not quite a short story, but it definitely fits. – Kyle S. Jun 23 '12 at 19:54
  • Nah - the advertising is key in this short story, not the surveillance. – A.D Jun 24 '12 at 12:52

The theme of ubiquitous advertising was used by Ann Warren Griffith in “Captive Audience”, in which a character goes to prison to escape the advertising after earplugs are declared illegal. That story was collected in Tomorrow, Inc. I checked, but none of the stories in that book match your description.


Could it be JG Ballard's The Subliminal Man? The only detail that matches is that there's constant advertising, though.

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