Christopher (Emily’s Little Pilot of Loquacious Weather, 2013, etc.) has figured out the secret to consistently landing a job on the quick: brazenly, confidently lie about your credentials. Here’s his comedic, meandering quest to find quick employment and avoid a long-lasting career.
In the midst of an ailing job market, this is an especially timely book. Covering two decades and 81 jobs, this series of first-person essays charts an eclectic and in some ways strangely impressive tour of jobs. Christopher visits both the highs and lows of employment, working as a writer, a mortuary driver, a plumber’s assistant and a copy editor of gay porn. At that last gig, once outed as a heterosexual, he was the victim of sexual harassment perpetrated by a female superior. The tone is always breezy and ironic, though the constant posture of cleverness can sometimes grate as it becomes a kind of “too cool for school” aversion to bourgeois careerism. Thankfully, the book can be lively and genuinely hilarious as well as bracingly self-critical. Somewhat frustratingly, though, despite a few mentions of personal autonomy and being “the protagonist in your own living novel,” it’s not exactly clear why the author insists on such an itinerant lifestyle. “I’ve never subscribed to that old-fashioned American Dream of having just one career for 35 years, followed by a cane-bound trance of heart medications, hip problems and Law & Order,” he says. “Nothing scares me more, to be honest, even as I near dangerously close to middle age myself. Instead, I prefer to taste life. I prefer to taste many lives, actually.” Responding to a command from his father to essentially get a job, not to mention a life, he reflects: “But then from out of nowhere springs a statement so profound and so uncommonly logical as: I need to live life in order to write about life. So simple yet so philosophical—existential, even.” What redeems much of the shallowness here is that Christopher is much more than what he claims to be, “a professional pretender for a decent paycheck and health insurance.” After all, while tasting many lives, he’s written four books.
A very funny but sometimes self-indulgent account of life chasing art and avoiding responsibility.