A DAY IN THE NIGHT OF AMERICA by Kevin Coyne

A DAY IN THE NIGHT OF AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Attention all 28 million Americans awake and working after midnight: This book's for you. To complete his Studs Terkel-ish collection of stories about night workers from Tampa Bay to Alaska, Massachusetts journalist Coyne traveled over 18,000 miles and amassed interviews with 429 nocturnal souls, seeking to support his thesis that having ``run out of geographic frontiers to colonize...we are colonizing a new frontier of time.'' Coyne has organized his material cleverly: His tales appear as if collected all in one night, beginning at 12 a.m. aboard a fishing boat in Massachusetts Bay, where we learn about net repairs and the Russian market for herring. Along the way, night workers' motives are elucidated. Some, like the check processor at a bank in Boston with five kids and an elderly father to care for, choose the graveyard shift because it frees them to attend to personal responsibilities during the day. Others make slightly better wages when the stars are out, while others still, like a Land's End order-taker in Wisconsin, just feel out-of-sync with daytime hours. Unsurprising and ho-hum occupations are represented aplenty, particularly those of late-night talk-show hosts, cable-news anchormen, postal workers, and convenience-store operators. More interesting are the thoughts of an alligator catcher in Florida, proud bakers in Sioux City, and homeless-shelter administrators in Chicago. Best of all are the night owls in the city that really never sleeps, Las Vegas, where we hear from the owner of the Little White Chapel (who's performed 500,000 weddings in 30 years), from prostitutes, and from card-dealers. In the end, some jobs are just more worth reading about than others, regardless of when they're performed--which makes about half this book worth staying up for and the other half relief from insomnia.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-394-57640-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992




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