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Reading "Working"
Published on July 16, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the Studs Terkel book "Working."

Here's an excerpt:

"A description of 'Working' might make it sound rather tedious. Published in 1974, the book is a collection of interviews in which people talk about their jobs — what they do, how they feel about it and their attitudes toward work and life in general. What’s amazing is how interesting the interviews are — Terkel’s subjects provide vivid accounts of their work, as well as wise insights drawn from years of toil, even when the jobs being discussed seem fairly mundane: waitress, accountant, hospital aide, bus driver. I was also impressed with how many of Terkel’s subjects are gifted storytellers — how eloquently they speak of their hopes, dreams, fears and joys. Each interview contains poetry, and truth.

'Working' gives lie to one of the big myths of our time: that blue-collar work is somehow less important, less worthy of respect, than white collar work. Terkel speaks with auto workers, truck drivers, welders, heavy equipment operators and miners, who all give the impression that they’re working very hard, at jobs that are physically demanding and require a certain amount of know-how to do well. We hear from a service station owners who put in 12-hour days, a cab driver who fears for his safety and a janitor who takes pride in his work, saying, 'You can call me a janitor. There’s nothing wrong with a janitor.'"

Click here to read more.

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