Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs

//Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs

Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs

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By | 2012-10-01T20:24:29+00:00 October 1st, 2012|Gigs Media|3 Comments

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3 Comments

  1. Jay Friedman October 1, 2012 at 8:50 pm
    31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Fantastic and in depth, although not a page turner, December 3, 2003
    By 
    Jay Friedman (Dallas, TX United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs (Paperback)

    Briefly, this book conducts about 100 interviews with people with different jobs that truly run the gamut. UPS worker to mega-producer. Porn star to funeral home director.

    I’d say about one in every seven is absolutely fascinating and eye-opening. 5 in 7 are just good reading and then one in seven drags. If you’re interested in the fabric that makes up amercian society, you’ll love this book at much as I did. Some of the interviews are just shocking, like the UPS guy who gives better service to the companies with the best porn in the bathroom.

    Also, each interview is about 5-7 pages, so if you’re someone who is pressed for time, it’s easy to pick up and put down quickly.

    Overall, a great read.

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  2. SPM "scott_maykrantz" October 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm
    19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Americans defined by their work, November 8, 2003
    By 
    SPM “scott_maykrantz” (Eugene, Oregon) –

    This review is from: Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs (Paperback)

    It’s too bad it took so long for someone to put together another book like Studs Terkel’s “Working.” “Gig” is a collection of interviews with over 120 Americans who talk about their jobs. The questions are removed, so you end up with 3- and 4-page monologues. It’s an effective technique, letting each person describe their working life in their own words.

    The editors retained the references to sex and a lot of swearing, which is good. That’s how people talk, so you might as well leave it in. The degree of honesty isn’t reflected in the tone of the interviews, however — the people might feel free to swear, but they don’t feel free to complain about bosses, insecurity about layoffs, being stuck in dead-end jobs, bad pay, poor career choices, illegal business practices, or annoying co-workers. All of these topics get *some* coveage, but only enough to remind you how rare they are. Frankly, I think the book is too positive, with far too many people saying they love their jobs and couldn’t be happier.

    You should read it for yourself and see if you get the same reaction. It’s a very easy book to read; every interview is over before it can get boring. Everyone has a unique story to tell. The range of professions is wide, giving you a broad spectrum of people to listen to.

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  3. Gregorator October 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm
    14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Still fascinating after all these years, but…, November 20, 2001
    By 
    Gregorator (New York, NY) –

    This review is from: Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs (Paperback)

    … times have changed.

    Reading WORKING years ago was a profound and emotional experience for me. In being presented with the dignity of the most “ordinary” of lives I felt like I got to know everyone in America and, further, I felt I’d been made a part of the united states (note the lowercase) in my own ordinary way.

    GIG reprises the concept and, like WORKING, is endlessly fascinating, funny, horrifying, and bold. I think it succeeds admirably — BUT — I think it’s fundamentally a different animal from WORKING, by virtue of the fact that the world has changed out from under the essential idea of the book(s).

    While Americans in particular have always tried to maintain a distinction betwen who they “are” and what they “do”, this distinction seems far stronger these days than it did in the post-war era. The jobs described in WORKING were the places the narrators had made for themselves in the world — not necessarily permanent, fulfilling, or by choice — but the result of an attempt to find, or accept, a place in society. This is why the stories were of lives and people, not merely functions.

    In contrast, the jobs in GIG are just that: jobs. As I read it, the narrators make a clear and solid statement that they do not put as much of themselves in their jobs as did the people of the WORKING era (note that “gig” specifically means a temporary engagement). They go out of their way to make it clear that jobs are essentially disposable, interchangeable, often impossible to feel any respect for: essentially, distinct from what they really want to “be.” I have no doubt this is true — the result of our American definition of “success” in purely financial terms — and it’s not the editor’s fault that people do not use their work to describe their place in the world anymore, but — they don’t.

    Admittedly I’m generalizing — but on the whole, society has changed, as have the people in it (vice-versa?) and as a result GIG cannot contain the emotional power of its predecessor. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the increasing disposability of American culture — a price the book is paying despite its great intentions; but when you’re finished with GIG, you may feel enlightened, but you will not feel changed. For that, WORKING remains the fortunate product of its time, and still the more deeply affecting of the pair.

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