A long walk, composed of short vignettes, through the career decisions of 50 professional Americans.
Inspired by his own feelings of confusion about hustling up work in the wake of thinning assignments, journalist and novelist Bronson (The Nudist on the Late Shift, 1999, etc.) hits the road to report on the state of people pursuing their dreams in the workplace. While considering his own career path, Bronson had a realization: “Nothing seemed more brave to me than facing up to one's own identity.” Accordingly, he has gone in pursuit of those courageous souls. We are introduced to an investment banker turned catfish farmer, a dancer turned PR executive, a TV writer who left Hollywood to return to his roots in Pittsburgh, an Olympic hopeful who gave it up to be a mother, and countless others, most of whom have intriguing work histories to relate. Just for variety, there’s even a professional who has had a single employer (NASA) since graduating from college more than a decade ago. The character who receives the most attention, however, is Bronson himself. The author is relentless in his efforts to insert his reactions to his subjects, both during and after the interviews. When an electric-car inventor becomes overly involved in home improvements and loses track of his own ambitions, the readers are capable of groaning inwardly all on their own; Bronson's report that “it hurt to learn this” is maddeningly extraneous. Certainly, such a project needs an organizing principle, but Bronson's freewheeling analysis and earnest assertions of respect for his subjects fail to engage, resulting in messy pastiche of oral history, sociology, and self-help.
Well-researched, engaging stories struggling under the weight of cloying commentary.