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The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meetby Mickey Z
Synopses & Reviews
A compendium of stories by activists.
Cabbies, waitresses, clerks, telemarketers, and an array of others tell how they balance activism and artistic production with the daily struggle to make ends meet. Contributors' essays are at once absurd and poignant, captivating and strange.
Work in the early twenty-first century is a bruise on the heart of every American. With the rare exception of people fortunate enough to have a job they are fulfilled by and enjoy, time spent at work is an unpleasant (often debilitating and unhealthy) trade-off to obtain basic necessities such as food and housing. Work, like the proverbial death and taxes, is not a choice. Most workers experience a range of feelings about their jobs, from deep-seated resentment to sadness and a sense of injustice to moments of rare joy. Work is a fifty year fugue from which people occasionally awake, wondering where their lives went; time spent working is a series of murdered years.
The Murdering of My Years is a compendium of stories by activists and artists showing the ways they manage to get by in America. The stories range from the absurd to the heartbreaking, from the exciting and strange to the depressingly banal. The book gets at the pain, disillusionment and fundamental hopelessness that afflicts many workers.
The Murdering of My Years names and examines the elusive sore that so many Americans run their fingers over absent-mindedly throughout the course of the workday and throughout the course of their entire lives. Mickey Z.'s book allows the amorphous pain, frustration and hopelessness of work to be named. More importantly, it creates a space for the myth of the American work ethic and the order that enforces it to be challenged. The book beseeches the reader to stand up and assert their humanity and to understand that work as we know it is neither a natural or incontrovertible state of affairs. Ultimately, the book has the potential to open up a dialogue about a subject that deeply effects almost every American: the pain and dread induced by work and the chance to challenge and escape that pain.
The book's particular power is located in the sheer number of voices that are openly critical of the nature of work as we know it. They talk about the jobs they've had (as cabbies, organizers, waitresses, clerks, drivers taking scabs to secret scab trainings, telemarketers, etc.), how they were initially politicized, the nature of their art, and how they feel about working (or resistance to working) in a political context. The twenty-plus contributors' opinions and stories are revisited again and again in response to different questions, so that the over-all structure of the book is like that of a Frederick Wiseman documentary.
About the Author
Mickey Z. (a.k.a. Michael Zezima) is the author of Saving Private Power: The Hidden History of "The Good War" and Forgotten New York: Small Slices of a Big Apple. His writing has also appeared in two books from Disinformation: You Are Being Lied To and Everything You Know is Wrong. In his twenty year career as a writer, he has been the editor-in-chief of Curio magazine, a regular columnist for Street News, and the editor of five zines. He is currently Senior Editor of Wide Angle, a neighborhood paper in Astoria, Queens, where he resides.
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