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Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work Paperback – April 19, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A rich compendium that seeks to define, defend and explain the importance of work using complex characters that range from a veteran waiter aboard a train to a lauded but aging poet seeking his muse in Italy.” (Associated Press)

“This book is worth a read. I learned a few things, smiled a time or two and made myself a promise to leave very, very good tips for the next delivery man who comes to our house.” (New York Times)

From the Back Cover

This vital and compelling collection of stories about work, compiled by novelist and short-story writer Richard Ford, explores tales of how we Americans are employed; how we find work and leave it; how it excites, ennobles, occasionally debilitates, but often defines us.

Contributing writers for Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar range from contemporary Pulitzer Prize winners Edward P. Jones and Jhumpa Lahiri to iconic short-story masters Tobias Wolff, Annie Proulx, and Joyce Carol Oates, as well as emerging writers such as Lewis Robinson. Encompassing a wide range of contemporary literary styles, ages, ethnic backgrounds, and geographical locations, Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar is a masterful, exhilarating, and timely fictional exploration of work and its relationship to the human spirit.

All author proceeds from Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work will go directly to fund the free youth writing, tutoring, and publishing programs offered by 826michigan.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1St Edition edition (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062020412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062020413
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
Thirty-two accounts, fewer than you'd expect told on the job, but the duties of making a living, or failing to do so, haunt them all. Alphabetized by surname, this (lack of) arrangement appears a bit of a cop out, for the reader must labor to make more sense of how these disparate tales fit together. Nearly all take place in America, all were previously published by Americans, and all but one feature Americans.

What does this focus, then, reveal about occupations and careers? Richard Ford's introduction tells us more about a put-down at a dinner party he attended than the collection he edits. The reader must therefore figure out why each story was included, and overall, if this represents the best ever compiled about how writers imagine how the bulk of our lives are spent, at least five days a week for most of us, then recent fiction may stint on what even its most accomplished practitioners expend on its evocation.

I sought patterns of connection. Russell Banks' "The Gully" reveals how vigilantes in a Third World city manage to succeed as entrepreneurs, while T. C. Boyle's "Zapatos" offers a shaggy-dog story which explores similar terrain with a clever nod to the unnamed country of Chile's delineation. Junot Díaz navigates his familiar arena of tension between Latino immigrants, here a Dominican-born pool table deliveryman in "Edison, New Jersey" whose lack of principles throw off the reader's expected sympathy. As with "Drummond and Son" by Charles D'Ambrosio, set in a Seattle typewriter repairman's store where the owner must deal with his unstable, damaged son, these milieux, with blue-collar settings, enlivens their skewed narratives.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on December 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
This anthology was published in 2011 and contained 32 stories by as many authors, mainly but not entirely from the US. The works ranged from the 1940s to 2011, with more than three-quarters of the pieces from the past 30 years.

For many of the stories, work wasn't as centrally related as I'd been expecting. Pieces with the most direct connection were "Job History," by Annie Proulx, which recounted the many failed jobs a couple had worked at through their lives while struggling to raise a family. Despite much disappointment, the striving never stopped. And "Great Experiment," by Jeffrey Eugenides, in which a disgruntled editor pondered his lack of income and the state of the nation while compiling quotations from De Tocqueville on America's early promise. Formally interesting was "Me and Miss Mandible," from the 1960s by Donald Barthelme, in which an insurance adjuster found himself suddenly reassigned to elementary school, in a transformation echoing something by Kafka.

Too many of the other stories in the collection seemed cluttered and formless, failing to hold my attention all the way through. On the other hand, some of the longest works in the book were among the most memorable: "Pharmacy" by Elizabeth Strout, set in a small-town community, where the passage of time and changes in people were beautifully depicted. "The Store," by Edward P. Jones, in which a city youth slowly found a sense of community, guided by a mentor. And "The Flaw in the Design," on the pressures in a well-to-do family, even though it seemed to be more about cultural dislocation than anyone's job.

Some modern work-related authors/stories not in this collection: John O'Hara, "A Respectable Place" and "Walter T. Carriman." Charles Beaumont, "The Vanishing American.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RabidReader on April 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
This anthology is one of the best I've ever read. And in it, there are four perfect stories by Richard Bausch, Elizabeth Strout, Eudora Welty and Richard Yates. The Strout story, Pharmacy, is staggering. A must read anthology.
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