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Gig Americans Talk about Their Jobs at the Turn of the Millennium

ISBN 0609605887 / 9780609605882 / 0-609-60588-7

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Book summary

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. Word 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. [via]