A regular feature in the Web zine Word
is a column called "Work," conceived as an updated homage to Studs Terkel's 1972 book, Working
. A selection of these Word
columns, augmented with some new material, has been collected under another monosyllabic title, Gig
. The slightly more effusive subtitle describes precisely what the book offers: Americans Talk About Their Jobs at the Turn of the Millennium
conducted interviews with and accepted submissions from a wide range of people with an equally wide range of jobs. The editors have organized the entries into rough thematic groups such as Plants and Animals (lawn maintenance man, buffalo rancher, dog trainer), Bodies and Souls (palm reader, orthopedic surgeon, telephone psychic), and Artists and Entertainers (video game designer, Elvis Presley "interpreter," art mover).
This is a casual book of over 120 brief first-person narratives. It is not a survey or an anthropological study, but a window onto how other people spend their days and nights. A few of the people are famous (supermodel Heidi Klum, painter Julian Schnabel), but most are not, and the latter are in some ways more interesting, not least because we already hear so much about the former in the welter of entertainment coverage that already graces our TVs and newsstands. The joy of Gig lies in its conversational tone and intimate peeks into occupations that many would never even know existed (who knew you could be a "clutter consultant"?). So, if you've ever wanted to ask the human resources director of a slaughterhouse how her day was, Gig is for you. --J.R.
From Publishers Weekly
Edited by Word.com's Marisa Bowe (editor-in-chief), John Bowe (freelancer) and Sabin Streeter (senior editor), here's an engaging oral history for the dot-com era. This fat book originated as a weekly column on the site of Word.com, a hip, general-interest e-magazine; it's a smart, Studs Terkel-like examination of how we work nowAtemporary and permanent; at home and in cubicles; 20 and 100 hours a week. In place of a seamless, analytical account, the book instead collects more than 100 personal testimonies from a range of workersAfrom the anonymous (a flight attendant, a UPS driver, a pretzel vendor, a dog trainer) to the famous (Heidi Klum, Julian Schnabel, Debra Messing, Barney Frank). Each testimony reflects a history, an identity and an age. Nonfiction and fiction lovers, employed and unemployed alike, will enjoy this book and its captivating real-life characters. In one account, a transvestite prostitute speaks of the dangers of working the streets, his $150,000 home in Queens, N.Y., and his early "retirement." In another testimony, a retired educator, now a Wal-Mart "greeter," declares, "My favorite thing about the job is just the fact that I have a job." By grouping these personal testimonies according to broad categories such as Workers and Managers, Buyers and Sellers, and Bodies and Souls, this well-considered, expertly crafted book manages to illustrate how work defines our lives while successfully dodging the tendency to impose a political angle on workers and their work. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.