99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses

99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses

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by Joe Cottonwood
     
 

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Winner! First place!
IndieReader Discovery Award
"Best Indie Nonfiction Book of 2014"

"A general contractor and author looks back on a 35-year career contending with a variety of houses and people—most in disrepair. The many blue-collar jobs that Cottonwood wonderfully describes in his latest offering may involve worm-gear saws, ladders, lighting

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Overview

Winner! First place!
IndieReader Discovery Award
"Best Indie Nonfiction Book of 2014"

"A general contractor and author looks back on a 35-year career contending with a variety of houses and people—most in disrepair. The many blue-collar jobs that Cottonwood wonderfully describes in his latest offering may involve worm-gear saws, ladders, lighting fixtures and the like, but they’re really all about people. Some are wealthy, some poor, but all are frail in some way and in need of some proper shoring—that includes the ace carpenter himself. Each vignette confidently stands on its own, whether several pages long or only a few paragraphs. The robust snapshots of the carpenter’s working life toiling in crawl spaces and basements play on important themes of mortality, class and personal fulfillment. Elegant entries ... touch on the often ephemeral nature of close human relationships. Expertly crafted narrative nonfiction that reveals the framework of people’s lives." —Kirkus starred review.

"A gritty and entertaining memoir. Colorful characters and situations. Cottonwood’s prose is lively and his stories often charming. Readers will find it easy to relate to the author and his experiences, which are likely to appeal to anyone who has worked a less-than-perfect job."—Publishers Weekly

"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 in a few deftly chosen words with a master’s skill. He has a gift for those little details that make a scene intensely vivid – his descriptions, whether of a person or a landscape, are brilliant. Essay-writing at its best - a great gift."—IndieReader.com

Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. He is the author of nine published novels. This is his first work of nonfiction.

“A house is alive. It breathes. It expands and contracts. It ages. Sometimes it falls sick, and then I’m a doctor of houses. I probe intimate cavities. I study the bones, the nerves, the flesh of an old house where generations of remodels have built upon themselves. The structure tells a story: tragedy, comedy, or heartwarming family drama as day-to-day life slowly, inexorably leaves an imprint over the attic, on the walls, under the sink—or in the crawlspace.”
—From 99 Jobs

Ninety-nine stories that are gritty, funny, wise. And always deeply humane.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/17/2014
In this gritty and entertaining memoir, Cottonwood presents readers with a collection of anecdotes—some more serious than others—about his experiences working odd jobs as a contractor, carpenter, plumber, and electrician. As the titles suggests, the work wasn't always easy, but it brought Cottonwood into contact with a variety of colorful characters and situations—e.g., when the author takes a job rewiring an illegal rental for a "crazy man"; when he gets a job changing light bulbs on a college campus; and when he salvages a clawfoot bathtub from a wrecking yard in San Jose, Calif., only to let it sit unused on his unfinished bathroom floor for six years. Cottonwood's prose is lively and his stories often charming. Readers will find it easy to relate to the author and his experiences, which are likely to appeal to anyone who has worked a less-than-perfect job.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-28
A general contractor and author looks back on a 35-year career contending with a variety of houses and people—most in disrepair.Beginning when the author was just starting out as a novice handyman in the 1970s, this collection of short essays roughly progresses through to the present day, when, despite numerous tumbles off ladders and at least one impaling, Cottonwood is still plying his trade. The many blue-collar jobs that Cottonwood (Clear Heart, 2009, etc.) wonderfully describes in his latest offering may involve worm-gear saws, ladders, lighting fixtures and the like, but they're really all about people. Some are wealthy, some poor, but all are frail in some way and in need of some proper shoring—that includes the ace carpenter himself. Each vignette confidently stands on its own, whether several pages long or only a few paragraphs. The robust snapshots of the carpenter's working life toiling in crawl spaces and basements around Northern California over the last four decades consistently play on important themes of mortality, class and personal fulfillment. Elegant entries like "A Working-Class Hippie" and "The Airplane Room" touch on the often ephemeral nature of close human relationships. A vague sense of melancholy pervades much of Cottonwood's work, even in the midst of relative triumph, such as when Cottonwood receives a check for a job well-done: "This simple act always fascinates me: the transfer of wealth. So casual. So vital. A rich man of immense power, a tradesman with none. What if he refused?"Expertly crafted narrative nonfiction that reveals the framework of people's lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940045438582
Publisher:
Joe Cottonwood
Publication date:
11/13/2013
Sold by:
Smashwords
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
516 KB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Joe Cottonwood was born in 1947, bent his first nail in 1952, and wrote his first story in 1956. He's been a writer and a carpenter ever since.

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99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
BigAl70 More than 1 year ago
I was slightly apprehensive about 99 Jobs, not sure whether it was something I’d enjoy or not. On one hand, I’ve found memoirs about ordinary people from different walks of life to be fascinating in the glimpses they give into those lives, helping give me a deeper understanding of a variety of people and, in theory, maybe making me a slightly better person. On the other hand, how well would you expect a typical carpenter, plumber, and all around handyman to be able to string words together? Hopefully better than I can drive a nail, replace shingles, or for that matter, string words together.  It turns out Cottonwood isn’t your stereo-typical blue collar guy. (Maybe there is a lesson for me there.) 99 Jobs could be viewed as a series of vignettes, each telling the tale of a single job over his long career. Every “job” or chapter could stand alone. One of the first chapters, Junior Electrician, chronicles Joe’s job changing light bulbs on a college campus in St Louis. That he was also a student at that same college, eventually graduating and working as a computer operator, is one way he turned out not to be your typical handyman, eventually realizing that he preferred working with his hands, often outside exposed to the elements, rather than spending his workday in the sterile environment of the computer room. However, taken together, the individual jobs or chapters form a coherent whole that paints a picture of Cottonwood as a person. Besides giving an idea of what the life of a handyman might be like, they’re also full of lessons about life and people well beyond just the nuts and bolts of Cottonwood’s work. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **