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04 September 2009


I am just about to start Dreaming in Code. Really enjoying your blog. Love your blog name. Have a good holiday weekend.

One way to get a husband mad is to tell him that technically he shouldn't get Labor Day off since he's management.

Yes! Lists of books about work (or anything)! I just wish my public library allowed unlimited renewals. Happy Labor Day!

Ooh, these all look really good. I especially love John McPhee, but missed this one when it came out. I'm thinking of proposing some Langewiesche for my book group. Yum!

Have you read Blue Blood by Edward Conlon? It's about his career as a NYC cop. It's not quite what you would expect (more the grind than the glory), since he's Yale educated and used to write for the New Yorker under a pseudonym. A bit like New Jack, actually. Really absorbing.

I just had to laugh! I still have the apron I wore as a server at Red Lobster where I worked in HS and every summer during college.

Oooh, "Dreaming in Code." It's outdated by now, I know, but still a very interesting read about how programmers work. There were lots of great little nuggets in that book that I still remember now, years after I first read it, and that's rare for me. (My memory is a sieve.) I hope you like it!

And thanks for the kind words. I like the blog name too, although Mr. CR is still hoping it's not a front for some kind of communist organization.

Way to go, riling up the MANagement. :) Happy Labor Day right back at you.

Yes, John McPhee has a surprisingly long list of books to his credit, considering they are all quite high-quality. One of my goals is to read all of his books, eventually. Do let me know what you think of Langewiesche, too, please.

LOVED the Edward Conlon. Tried to give it to lots of readers at the public library but they were all scared by its length--too bad, because it was really interesting. I didn't know that about his writing for the New Yorker--do you know what pseudonym he used!

Waitresses (past and present) unite! I must admit that after a summer of grueling labor at the Bitcin' K, I thought they OWED me an apron. I think Red Lobster owed you yours too.

Speaking of waitresses, one of my favorite songs is "Waitress Song" by Freakwater. It speaks to waitresses, and waiters, all over.

Thanks so much for acknowledging this holiday and mentioning that it's actually about workers! Interesting list and some I definitely must check out. This weekend, my song is Bread and Roses by Judy Collins (there's a link to hear it on my blog).

Venta, ELW,
thanks very for the song ideas! I'm going to YouTube Freakwater and see what I can find, and I always like Judy Collins.

Ah, Labor Day weekend. Nice to be in the middle of it. I hope you all are getting some time off of your labors to read!

One that I would tentatively add to this list is Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed." I hesitate to say it is a book about work - it is about everything BUT the crummy jobs she works - but it was the rare book that really changed the way I thought about things I saw every day and deserves a mention. I've heard people quibble about her methodology but the complainers seem cut from the same cloth as those who cavil about global warming or the Iraq war - yes, you can chip around at the edges of her argument (which is basically that the idea of a living blue collar wage is a myth) but the central issues are, it seems to me, indisputable to anyone who looks at them dispassionately. It doesn't help matters that Ehrenreich got a bit lazy and cranked out a couple of sloppy books to follow this one, but it is worth a look if you have not previously read it.

Climbing off my soapbox (sorry), John Gregory Dunne wrote well about the work of being a writer, as did (much more amusingly) William Goldman.

Thanks, Steve:
I thought about the Ehrenreich book, but she falls into the category of authors for whom I simply feel no affinity. If her book made you think about things differently, that's worth it (I feel the same way about the Bowe book, and his "the system is working the way it was set up to work" quote) but I'm one of those quibblers with her methodology. She's a big and successful enough name that when she needed a break from her investigations into service and low-wage jobs, she just flew home for a little while and smoked some pot, which is nothing I particularly care about (I say just legalize the stuff already), but to me, the real shit of these low-wage jobs is how a. you don't really get a nice escape to fly home and see your family and relax with a doobie, and b. you certainly don't have health insurance and plenty of wealth to fall back on, which she did. If you take all of that sort of worry out of the picture, working these soul-killing jobs isn't nearly the same kind of experience. I much preferred Lynn Snowden's earlier book "Nine Lives": at least I got the feeling she was a freelance writer who was existing a bit closer to the edge of poverty than Ehrenreich is.

As noted before, however, I'm a reverse snob; this book was simply too huge a bestseller for me to really embrace it. I did appreciate your note that she's also cranked out a couple of sloppier books since then. I do thank you for the suggestion--others might find lots to like in this book, even if I didn't. I'm up on the soapbox all the time so you never have to apologize for being on one either.

LOVE John Gregory Dunne's nonfiction about being a writer; his collection "Regards" is a beautiful book. (Lots in there about agricultural workers in California, too.) And I'm definitely going to have to look into William Goldman now. Thanks!

I read “The Restless Sleep” over the holiday weekend. It was kind of ironic, on Tuesday my co-workers were talking about the serial killer recently captured here in Milwaukee. I was walking past them when one of them said, “I bet Savvy knows, she reads all those crime novels”. First, I had to clarify I don’t read crime novels I read nonfiction. They then asked all these questions about evidence, DNA what took so long to capture the serial killer, etc. because of “The Restless Sleep” I was able to intelligently answer their questions. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the Menage.

I started reading “The Working Stiff’s Manifesto” last night; so far I think Levison is very funny. Much funnier than Ed Weiner’s “The Geography of Bliss” which a friend recommended saying it was the funniest book she read this year. I think it is the worst book I’ve read this year. (Note to self: check CR’s blog for review before reading anymore books recommended by this friend)

I’ve never read Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed” despite many people saying I should. I disliked “Bait and Switch” so much I vowed never to read another book written by her.

Hello, Savvy!
Isn't Stacy Horn THE BEST? I'm so glad your very timely reading of The Restless Sleep came in handy, although I was not glad to hear of the scary man they arrested in Milwaukee. Why are there so many scary people around? Isn't it odd to think they live these lives where they periodically kill people, and go unnoticed and uncaught, for decades? It makes my skin crawl.

Ooh, The Working Stiff's Manifesto. That book did make me giggle; I'm not sure why. I think I just found Levison amusing. He's written a novel, too--"Before the Layoffs," I think it's called--which I think I tried to read but couldn't get into.

Ugh, "The Geography of Bliss." So many people told me they loved that one, and I could never think of a kind way to say "it bored me to tears." So now I just say, "Well, it bored me to tears." I hope you didn't read all of it if you weren't enjoying it.

Yikes, "Bait and Switch." Steve did call that one, when he referred to Ehrenreich's "sloppy" books. I don't think "Nickel and Dimed" was terrible, I just think it's probably a bit introductory for you. Reading your blog and hearing your comments, I think you're someone who already thinks about labor and wages and what people do for livings--and therefore Ehrenreich's "wow, it's hard to make a living on minimum wage" conclusion may be a bit simplistic for you.

Steve--I just looked up William Goldman and he's got a ton more titles than I expected. Can you suggest a book about writing of his that I should start with? Thank you!!

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