Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
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Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  734 ratings  ·  158 reviews
"Nutting's outrageous writing makes my face split with laughter. . . . She's glorious chaos and utterly original."-Lydia Millet

"A dark catalog of behavior for her characters and the result is a kind of human bestiary, if humans were programmed to go down in flames, to run themselves aground, to seek ruin on every occasion. . . . (They) illuminate how people hide behind the...more
ebook, 142 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Dzanc Books (first published October 1st 2010)
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i am so glad i read Tampa before reading this one. because while this was good, i think that the stories are better individually than as a collection. there are only a couple that were standouts to my particular tastes, although i am finding that flipping through them now, a week later, to refresh the old memory, i am nodding and thinking, "oh, yeah, that one was pretty cool," whereas reading them in one gulp, i kept scratching my head over why this book was such the darling of the goodreaders a...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Throughout the last two or three years I've been transitioning away from a steady diet of things like science, philosophy, history, and politics and into a swift and roaring stream of fiction. (For the time being I'll opt to bypass all yawn-inducing, eye-shuttering, public self-analysis about why and how this has been occuring and just accept these turning tides for what they are. 'Cause, ya know, life happens, man, and sometimes you just gotta enjoy the ride, dude. Bro. Kimosabe.) During this b...more
We all have jobs, and most of us would prefer better ones. If you don’t fall into this category, then I applaud you, but it is so easy to fall into dislike for anything that pries open sleep deprived eyes morning after morning and dumps you into bed exhausted to dream of all the living you would rather have been doing during your waking hours. Some of us, the lucky ones, get to pick our jobs, and sometimes we are pulled into the ones life deals us. Alissa Nutting’s wildly imaginative Unclean Job...more
Aw man! See! This is why I don't tend to re-read books! Unless it's one of those books that was pretty much written to be re-read (Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow, Infinite Jest), it's probably better that I bask in the rosy glow of my first impressions. When I first read this collection of nutty short stories (sorry, had to), I was head over heels! It was love at first read!

Don't get me wrong, I still "really liked" it the second time around, but I no longer think of it as AMAZING. Sniff. I don't w...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
And with that, Alissa Nutting went from being the lady who wrote the other first-person pedophile novel to someone I would so very have far too many drinks with. It's not that I didn't appreciate Tampa, but the wider range of voices here, including the occasionally relatable one, was a pretty welcome relief for me, having not been a teenager-doer since I was a teenaged do-y. It's a word. Seriously, everybody knows 99% of humans over the age of 2 and under the age of approx. 20 are assholes, and...more
Before we go any further I should say that after swinging wildly from delight to huffiness to outright mockery and then on to feelings of intense gloopiness towards Alissa Nutting, I ended up liking her and her fashionably bonkers stories more than just a little bit. There were a lot of ups and downs. We may as well get the downs out of the way first.

Some of these stories are extremely silly. I know they cruise on the edge of zany surreal absurdist lahdidah, and that’s okay. But some of them are...more
Sabra Embury
I went to a Rumpus reading held in Chinatown this week, and nothing against Rumpus, but I felt like I had better things to do than sit through five people reading what seemed to be journal entries aloud; stories about lost love or strange lust read in the tone of Victorian sentimentality, at an event as modern as free porn on the internet.

As I sat in a corner, playing games on my phone, I thought about aliens and talking wildebeests, and how anything out of the ordinary would add life to the en...more
I, too, have an unclean job; as in “It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it.” But that’s not what Alissa Nutting means. And it’s not what I mean either. This wonderfully imaginative work is not about employment. Instead, it’s about the many chambers of the human heart.

I am boiling inside a kettle with five other people. Check.

I’m expected to have anal sex with the winning contestant on the moon. Check.

I took a baby panda home from the zoo. Check.

"You are embarrassing yourself on a national l...more
I wanted to read this book for so long that I can't remember the original reason i wanted to read it but finally the stars aligned and I did. It's a collection of short stories about women with various "unclean jobs," including deliverywoman, porn star, cat owner, gardener, knife thrower, zookeeper, alcoholic, etc.
Alissa Nutting plays with how gender works, along with the messy violence, gross bodily functions, and the uglier sides of desire and lust. I am certain this author identifies as a fe...more
Ethel Rohan
Alissa Nutting's, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, is unlike any other story collection I've ever read. The first story, Dinner, moved me in a profound way. It was awful and brilliant and possibly life-changing. Because of this story, because of the other stories like it in this collection--bold, surreal, deeply compassionate, and highly imaginative--I might just write differently. I might just live differently.

Stories like "Dinner," "She-Man," and "Gardener" made me feel very human, very vulne...more
Sonja Arlow
THIS is what happens when you don’t read the book description in detail before delving in…. My word it was like walking through a fever dream inside a tumble dryer.

Most of the short stories seemed overly explicit for the pure purpose of shocking and disgusting the reader, even though I got the underlying messages and symbolism within most of them.

It almost felt as if I was reading assignments from a creative writing class. Now I didn’t hate every single story and two stands out that were quite e...more
Jack Waters
When a writer tempts fate with stories containing surreal, magical realism, it's an ambition fraught with risk and gamble. Like pulling in a fish of unexpected size, the writer must subtly tug you in to the shore, which takes patience on one end and a fight on the other. The unknown world provided cannot merely be described - it must be felt, seen.

The lay reader doesn't want to believe characters are being boiled alive. They won’t believe the devil has the time or desire to date. And why do we f...more
I have a feeling that bizarro just isn't my genre. Many of my friends have loved this collection (I read it based on many recommendations from them), but it was just too off-the-wall without enough development or substance in the stories for me to be able to enter into their spirit. I don't think it's fair of me to write a full review, since my sense is that Nutting is writing very effectively -- just within a genre that doesn't resonate with me.

Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an...more
I had remembered the title of this as "Uncommon Jobs for Women and Girls" which is of course wrong. In many senses. The women who stuck out for me in these stories were often prostitutes or sex workers, which is hardly an uncommon job for a woman. It is, however, perhaps an unclean job.

What Nutting excels at is the quirky premise. The odd situations and scenarios she describes in these stories never fail to grab you, because you keep wondering "how did you think of this bizarre thing." The exam...more
I have never read anything quite like Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting, although there may be a comparison to be drawn between this book of short stories and the Fairy Tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.

Alissa Nutting has an amazing “outside of the box” imagination. Each of her stories found in the Table of Jobs at the beginning of the book is quirky, to say the least, if not totally weird. They all feature a female as the central character and the title of the story is an i...more
Dayna Ingram
I cannot find the words to adequately review this magnificent collection!

So here is a snippet from Nutting's interview over at the Rumpus:

Rumpus: What I love about your stories – one of many things I love – is that you write about the absurdity of contemporary popular culture without sacrificing compassion for your characters. I’m thinking of the story “Porn Star,” which is narrated by a porn star who’s expected to have anal sex on the moon for a reality TV show. In the wrong hands, this story...more
Maybe I'm missing the point but I thought this book was pretty lame. There were a few interesting bits (like climbing into Satan's bloody belly pouch and accidentally pissing inside him while on a date together) and some of the language was beautiful but not nearly enough to outweigh the all around drivel. Sure it was strange, and I really like strange, but it was also vapid. These stories have nothing to offer except for their outlandishness. I applaud the creativity it takes to produce such bi...more
A highly deserved Innovative Fiction Prize-Winner, these stories are fresh, funny, weird, brilliant, unexpected... and the writing is crisp perfection. Micheal Martone's review says it best: "[Nutting] reanimates the deadest of dead pans to a state of enameled kabuki solar veneer." The result is stories you will not soon forget, and sentences, words, and paragraphs that any wordsmith will read with a swell of pure envy and love.
I love this book, absolutely love. The stories are just so strange, yet so approachable. Nutting has a perfect bead on how the most surreal moments can be the most revealing about real lives. Compassionate, fun, and moving. I loved each one.
I actually didn't finish this book. I give her credit for being different, but it seems too self-conciously different and therefore not sincere or something.
Tom Lichtenberg
I saw that this book had won an award for "innovative" fiction, but after reading it I'd have to say that I never would have believed the word "innovative" to be an understatement, but in this case, it is, and by far. Some of the stories in here are astonishingly original and bold. My favorite is probably 'Ant Colony', which begins with this:
"When space on earth became very limited, it was declared all people had to host another organism on or inside of their bodies. Many people chose something...more
This is an awesome book that my girlfriend bought me for my birthday. She loves it and is obsessed with the author, so she gave me a copy. Apparently, Alissa Nutting taught fiction writing to one of our friends for a while at John Carroll University. This book is just 200 pages, but it packs a lot in those pages. It’s filled with super short stories about the most random and weird concepts and imagery. It takes your brain to a place where it probably never thought about going before. There’s a s...more
Short stories about, yes, unclean jobs for the ladies. kind of Miranda-July-y in awkward content. The best story is Model's Assistant, the one that got me sucked into the book enough to buy it. i also like whichever ones are about being a pornstar in space, and being a lonely trucker lady (in space). lots of raunchy sex, all told in the same voice, as though it's the mind of one, many faceted woman with many many surreal jobs. i wasn't as excited about the prose at the end as i was at the beginn...more
This was funny and eminently readable. All the characters are either beautiful women exploited for their beauty or else ugly women abused for their ugliness. But there is more to it than that. This author's imagination spans the gamut from a Hell in which the devil is charmingly shy and builds rollercosters and bars with non-alcoholic beer for the damned, and where space delivery women can bid for convicts' cryogenically preserved bodies on E-Bay. It's all both fantastical and familiar. This is...more
This is a genre I've only discovered recently: Bizarro fiction. The closest thing I can think of that is similar is Chuck Palahniuk's stories. Two words: grotesque surrealism. The only difference between this collection and some of Chuck Palahniuk's works (don't get me wrong, I do love some of his works) is that it's not bile-inducing and actually enjoyable to read. More often than not, I would rather a book left me elevated, not nauseous. Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls is just that. It's the...more
The first half of this book I really disliked. The second half just blew by with a sick fascination. Was it the book or my mood? It was just amazing how many different horrible, bizarre scenarios a single author could come up with. On the back cover, a reviewer writes, "a human bestiary, if humans were programmed to go down in flames, to run themselves aground, to seek ruin on every occasion.” So true.
This is a book filled with what I call "Holy Shit! moments." As in, you stop every page or so and say out loud, "Holy shit!" These are wonderfully weird stories that have a refreshingly desperate and humane heart underneath all the surreal turmoil. Also--I saw Alissa read from this book recently and it was mind-blowingly good. This book and this writer deserve all of the hoopla they're getting and more.
Frances Dinger
This was not a bad book, but I feel like there isn't much going for it other than just being weird. All the women in it are servile and bland, which made many of these 'fairy tales' seem rather stale. Maybe I was wrong to go into this expecting something urgently interesting and critical.
As a fan of Tampa, I had been wanting to read this one for some time now. This collection was fun and imaginative. The stories were richly entertaining and varied enough to keep the interest going throughout. My favorites were Dinner, Porn Star, and Corpse Smoker.
Hard to pick a favorite from among those first five, but somewhere in those first five is my favorite. Not to discount the rest of the collection, but, man, "Model's Assistant," "Porn Star," "Dinner," "Bandleader's Girlfriend"? Hard to do much better.
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“I was like a turd inside someone who'd accidentally swallowed an engagement ring: I was nothing, yet I carried something uniquely special.” 6 likes
“I take my old seat by the window and start rapidly boozing. The lights change colors in ways that suggest I'm going too fast, and that is the speed I want to go.” 0 likes
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