Continuing Indie’s practice of recommending excellent self-pubbed titles, we bring you first-person accounts of daily work life. The common thread here is short essays depicting life on the job where the job is inherently interesting and the author’s viewpoint is philosophical, often funny and sometimes profound.
In 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat and Houses, which earned a Kirkus Star, author and general contractor Joe Cottonwood describes the sometimes short-lived, sometimes yearslong relationships he forms with those who hire him. Each tale about walking into someone’s house, negotiating a price, completing the job and obtaining payment reveals another world. Flooded with detail of Cottonwood’s work (noting the durability of a spider web, getting a face full of sewage, falling off a roof), 99 Jobs is a well-written voyeur’s delight.
In Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere, Bo Brock, a Lamesa , Texas, veterinarian, has an infectious appreciation for his family, especially his Pawpaw and his three daughters and just about any three- or four-legged animal to cross his path. And working as a large-animal vet yields quotable lines: “All of the cows at this particular ranch were a bit snakey, but this one-eyed one was too much” and “After you have seen a few cows go into the ‘I am going to pulverize you’ dance, climbing the nearest fence quickly becomes an involuntary response.”
Author Paul Carter is a happy blend of small-town doctor, farmer and storytelling master. Carter runs a small farm (sheep and everything) and handles the majority of Woongarra, Australia’s health needs. In Tales of a Country Doctor, which received a Kirkus Star, he recalls his many hilarious misadventures, e.g., planting lovely pots of some unidentified lacy greenery—a gift from a patient—in his yard. A friend informed him (“You idiot”) that he was cultivating some very healthy marijuana plants just before the police arrived for an unrelated matter. He’s also a charmer. Here’s his reaction to meeting a woefully neglected, but extraordinarily friendly dog someone was looking to pawn off on him: “My heart melted instantly. ‘My dear friend,’ I said as I bent forward. ‘If you can endure this sort of treatment and still be pleased to see someone, then you are definitely the dog for me.’ ” – K.S.
Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor at Kirkus Reviews.