Tag Archives: John Bowe


Bowe OK, I am a sucker for these kinds of books: essays by a wide range of people grouped around a particular topic (money, friendship, marriage, work, etc.) No surprise, then, that I was a big fan of John Bowe's book Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, which interviewed, in just a few pages each, people doing all kinds of jobs that you've always wondered about. It's still a book I like to pick up from time to time just to re-read a few essays.

Bowe has a new book out: Us: Americans Talk About Love, which contains "44 personal narratives from people describing the dynamics of their most intimate relationships", according to this Washington Post article. This book looks good too.

Corduroy Books blog says:

There is plenty to recommend this book—it’s a howler, by and large, and
unless your heart’s absolutely to-the-core granite, you’ll sniffle at
some point (likely anytime a partner talks of living without his/her
partner; it’s just awful to read, chokes me up just thinking of it),
but the real reason to buy this book is simpler than all that, easier:
love is wonder, is an act of mystery, and, depending on your own
distance from that fact, you may need reminding. This book is that
reminder. Read now.

Powell's calls Us "In a book that is by turns poetic, shocking, amusing, wise,
astonishing, and always frank, Americans talk about love–broken
hearts; sexual infidelities; improbable reconciliations; hidden,
forbidden, preposterous love; and endurance against all odds."

This would make a good Valentine's Day present, no?

Labor Day Post: NICKEL AND DIMED by Barbara Ehrenreich and GIG by John Bowe and Marisa Bowe

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I would write today about two of my favorite books that discuss the American worker: Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and Gig, by John Bowe and Marisa Bowe.

Nickel and Dimed, I can honestly say, changed my life.  The book is about a few months that Ehrenreich spent living on minimum wage.  She went to three American cities and got low-paying jobs (waitress, maid, etc.) and tried to get by solely on the money she made at those jobs.  Her matter-of-fact narration, combined with meticulous detail about her finances, the sheer physical labor of the jobs she took, and the lifestyle she was forced to adopt on minimum wage, make for an eye-opening, sobering, and unforgettable read.  When the book came out in 2001, Ehrenreich got some criticism for not spending enough time offering solutions to the nation’s poverty problem. I didn’t share that criticism — if her goal was simply to make readers aware of how inadequate minimum wage is, she accomplished it in spades.  This book has stayed with me for a long, long time, and I highly recommend it.  [Note for TV fans: Morgan Spurlock accomplished the same thing in his first episode of Season I of “30 Days” – he and his girlfriend lived off of minimum wage for 30 days.  Worth a rental on DVD if you haven’t seen it already.]

Gig Gig is a modern-day (2000) version of Studs Terkel’s famous book, Working.  It is basically a collection of short essays based on interviews with people doing all sorts of jobs, from a steel worker to a Wal-Mart greeter to a corporate lawyer.  It’s the type of book that you have to read in spurts; otherwise, the essays tend to run into each other and lose their staying power.  But if you’ve ever wondered about how other people earn a living, it’s really a fascinating read.

Finally, I apologize for the slow pace of posts these last few days – I am now using dial-up (dial-up!) from the beach, so everything is slower this week.