The night has become America's new frontier. From Wall Street brokers to next-day-mail carriers, from movie crews to bank workers processing tomorrow's checks, America is challenging the clock. No longer the sole province of policemen, office cleaners, and 7-Eleven clerks, the hours from midnight to dawn now draw more than seven million Americans to work - many in white-collar jobs. Kevin Coyne traveled from Massachusetts to Alaska in search of the new nighttime work ethic. He sorted packages for Federal Express,...
The night has become America's new frontier. From Wall Street brokers to next-day-mail carriers, from movie crews to bank workers processing tomorrow's checks, America is challenging the clock. No longer the sole province of policemen, office cleaners, and 7-Eleven clerks, the hours from midnight to dawn now draw more than seven million Americans to work - many in white-collar jobs. Kevin Coyne traveled from Massachusetts to Alaska in search of the new nighttime work ethic. He sorted packages for Federal Express, rode with tugboat operators on Puget Sound, listened to Trappist monks chant psalms on a Utah mountain, trolled with herring fishermen, hunted poachers with a game warden, monitored market shifts with Wall Street currency traders, and saw the sunrise with the "working girls" at a plush Nevada bordello. The result is an intimate and extraordinary journey that captures the mood, the feel, and the texture of America after hours - and reveals what really happens when most of us switch off the lights. A Day in the Night of America is a beautifully written and thoroughly absorbing journey into the upside-down world of the 7.3 million Americans who work the night shift.
Ingeniously conceived, superbly executed, freelance journalist Coyne's first book examines how Americans live--and, in particular, work--at night. At least 10 million people in the U.S. are on the job between midnight and 6 a.m., he reveals, and this defiance of day's end did not begin with Edison: Americans worked the late shift as early as 1646. Some night workers are ubiquitous--convenience store clerks, radio call-in show hosts, bakers preparing food for the breakfast trade--but others are easily overlooked, including steelworkers who maintain the ultra-high temperatures of foundry furnaces and Wall Street traders in foreign currencies. Beginning with fishermen in Gloucester, Mass., Coyne visited after-hours laborers in 41 states, ending his tour with a look at tugboaters on Puget Sound and a trip to Alaska for the briefest night of the year. The book resonates with Coyne's great interest in the ``nightsiders'' as people and in the work they do. ( Nov. )
In this account of the ten million Americans who toil on the ``graveyard shift'' from midnight to dawn, Coyne investigates an upside-down world that is the province not only of routine and menial tasks--office cleaners, convenience store clerks, and security guards--but also of the skilled and responsible work of international currency traders, hospital emergency room staffs, and military base teams, as well as such exotic callings as gambling room casino dealers in Las Vegas and ``working girls'' in Nevada bordellos. Coyne zigzagged across 41 states from Maine to Alaska to get the feel of work in darkness, and in his semifictionalized sketches he succeeds in creating the mood and the texture of ``a day in the night of America.'' Recommended for general collections.-- Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., CUNY
School Library Journal
YA-- Many of us think in rigid frameworks: daylight is for work; the dark of night for sleep, dreams, and ghouls. Coyne tests traditional assumptions here. Traveling throughout the U. S. to conduct his research, he estimates that eight million Americans work at night at a wide variety of occupations. In eloquent prose, he describes life as fishermen, warehouse workers, delivery persons, police officers, food preparers, firefighters, security workers, computer operators, telephone operators, mail sorters, and currency exchangers. The list continues, leaving a daytimer with new insight into the activities and accomplishments of these nocturnal workers who provide comfort, ease, and security for the rest of us. The attractive cover and unique premise should stimulate curiosity.-- Sue Davis, Cedar Falls High School, IA
With his compelling nonfiction reportage that's as dramatic as any novel -- including the WWII veteran profile Marching Home -- Kevin Coyne is bringing another perspective to "the greatest generation."
Good To Know
In our interview, Coyne shared some fascinating facts about himself:
"I started working at 14 at the local library and later graduated to driving a bookmobile."
"I started a newspaper when I was 22 and just out of college; it lasted less than a year, but it got that impulse out of my system so I don't have to do it again.
"I live in the same town where my family has been living since before the Civil War, and I serve here as both a councilman and as the town historian, which means I occasionally visit the grammar schools and embarrass my children there by trying to interest their classes in a bunch of old stories."
"I have three beautiful children who, if they ever choose to become writers themselves, will be fully aware of both the joys and consequences of their choice."