#FridayReads–DIARY OF A COMPANY MAN: Losing a Job, Finding a Life by James S. Kunen, whose Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary was a key 1960s text. After he was laid off from his corporate job in February 2008, Kunen describes himself as too young to retire, too old to hire. I’m still reading that first section of the book, over the weekend I’ll read how he weathers the storm of disemployment and comes out somewhere on the other side. Having experienced my own layoff, Kunen’s is a pitch-perfect rendering of the experience.
Also reading and loving Wayward Saints, a tragi-comic tale of rock ‘n roll, family, and second chances in life, by Suzzy Roche, of the singing Roches.
Update: I’ve now finished both these books, and loved them both, among the very best I’ve read thus far in 2012.
The Kunen book was really excellent on finding a new way through (mid-)life. Enduring my own layoff and disemployment, it was really inspiring to see Kunen, who’d worked in corporate PR at TIME, Inc. before he got dumped by the corporation, discovers a new meaning teaching English to immigrants. It’s titled Diary of a Company Man, and I kept thinking of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for a Common Man,” only it’s not etched in musical notes, but prose.
I’ve also now finished Suzzy Roche’s novel and found it to be an infectiously readable treat. I really loved it. It’s filled with wonderful characters spanning the generations and memorable situations. While Roche undoubtedly drew on her years as a traveling musician to flesh out the story, it doesn’t read as if it’s merely a novel about rock ‘n roll written by a musician; it’s a truly satisfying novel by a real writer, clearly not something that was just tossed off. Among the most striking features of it was the relationship between the musician protagonist, Mary Saint, and her mother Jean, from whom she’s long been separated. They learn how to forgive each other for past injuries. The second was the friendship between Mary Saint and her roommate Thaddeus, who becomes her confidant and motivator, able to push her to see what she’s still capable of doing.