This American Life contributor Dickerson recounts his time working for Hallmark in an amusing but disjointed debut memoir.
In his late 20s, the author, a crossword-puzzle writer and recovering evangelical Christian, landed what he hoped would be his dream job with the famous proprietor of sentiment. During his tenure with the company, Dickerson interacted with a surprisingly wide range of personalities and was passed back and forth between several different departments. Amid the amusing anecdotes of jokes fallen flat, petty passive-aggressive encounters and his bizarre methods of dealing with writer’s block, the author interlaces tales of other experiences, both life-altering and pedestrian (hiring a prostitute to touch her breasts, a shopping spree at The Gap). The stories are often provocative, fun to read and horribly familiar to those who have worked for large corporations, but Dickerson’s intent—both for the reader and himself—is unclear. In addition, he often piques the reader’s interest with leading phrases and language, and then fails to deliver the expected punch or glosses over profound revelations before moving on to a different topic. For example, after announcing that a potentially cancerous lump turned out to be merely an ingrown hair, Dickerson promptly segues into a prolonged story of further attempts to regain the approval of his boss through jokes that ultimately misfire horribly. His tendency to abruptly switch gears among topics like work, sex and religion with no framework to pull them together results in a haphazard stumble through a period in the author’s life.
While Dickerson’s alternately amusing and painful anecdotes speak clearly to all, a lack of perspective on his time at Hallmark may leave readers wandering as aimlessly as the author so often did at the greeting-card giant.