Verdict: 99 JOBS: BLOOD, SWEAT AND HOUSES is essay-writing at its best is a great gift, a connection with the inner mind of another human being, a way to see the world through another person's eyes for a time.
99 JOBS: BLOOD, SWEAT AND HOUSES is a collection of essays, ostensibly on construction jobs taken by the author, that manage to cover topics ranging from geology to philosophy, art to politics to family life and love.
Author Joe Cottonwood is a general contractor, plumber, electrician and builder. This book is a lovingly-gathered collection of stories about jobs he has done and clients he has helped – jobs ranging from changing light bulbs at a university to rebuilding houses damaged by major earthquakes, for clients who can be arrogant, kind, seductive, shy, tactless and cheerful, each and every one of them a personality in their own right.
In reality, what this is a collection of musings on life, the universe and everything, from the perspective of an intelligent, well-rounded and thoughtful man who’s worked with his hands, his brain and his heart for decades. The essays are almost prose poems, setting forth an image, a feeling, or a point of view in a few deftly chosen words. His writing is straightforward, clear and concise, with a master’s skill for wording and style. He has a gift for observation and for noting those little details that make a scene intensely vivid before the reader’s eyes – his descriptions, whether of a person or a landscape, are brilliant. He is very good at subtly and gently drawing a point, a contrast, or a moral, leaving it to soak into the reader’s attention without needing to hammer it home painfully or repetitively. His treatment of others in the book, whether co-workers or clients or family members, is generally kind, and he seems to make a genuine effort to see things through other people’s eyes when he can, to figure out where they’re really coming from, even when they treat him badly. A wry sense of humor brightens the essays, and areader prone to reading aloud choice bits of prose to a patient spouse or family member will find this book a gold mine.
99 JOBS: BLOOD, SWEAT AND HOUSES is essay-writing at its best is a great gift, a connection with the inner mind of another human being, a way to see the world through another person’s eyes for a time.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader