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Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,378 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
In this darkly hilarious debut collection, misfit women and girls in every strata of society are investigated through various ill-fated jobs. One is the main course of dinner, another the porn star contracted to copulate in space for a reality TV show. They become futuristic ant farms, get knocked up by the star high school quarterback and have secret abortions, use parake ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Starcherone Books (first published October 1st 2010)
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May 27, 2013 karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: hey-shorty

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
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Dec 08, 2011 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing
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
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Mar 10, 2014 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
Paul Bryant
Jul 29, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
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
Jun 27, 2011 jess rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, ladyish, 2012
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
Feb 21, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it
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
Sabra Embury
Jan 11, 2011 Sabra Embury rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Ethel Rohan
Dec 21, 2010 Ethel Rohan rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 05, 2012 Jenny rated it it was ok
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
Jack Waters
Jun 25, 2013 Jack Waters rated it really liked it
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
Tom Willard
Jul 17, 2012 Tom Willard rated it liked it

I largely enjoyed this collection of oddities. Nutting has a fabulous imagination which explores strange angles & surreal mise-en-scene, of which I will not describe as progressing through the arcane permutations is much of the fun. Although, at times, certain stories have a flat tone, use tiresome metaphors and provide cutesy details for seemingly no reason but to provide cutesy details. This is the kind of pitfall I imagine comes from the creative writing programs, even though I did not go
Anita Dalton
It’s not so surprising that I adored this collection – I raved about Nutting’s look at a female sexual predator and had high expectations for this book. This collection is less concentrated in terms of content and style than Tampa and the varied nature of this collection shows Nutting’s skill as a teller of many types of stories. She handles mundane yet self-aware neuroticism like an updated Tama Janowitz (whose seminal summation of ’80s New York, Slaves of New York, I will be discussing here so ...more
Aug 17, 2013 Shh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2011 clare rated it it was ok
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.
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
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
Mar 11, 2014 Penny rated it liked it
There is something really liberating about this book of short stories. It reminds me-- as reader, a writer and as a human in general--that there are no rules. You can set a whole story in a boiling kettle filled with six strangers meeting for the first time, and never explain how they got there or why they are being boiled alive.
Still, I think it is difficult to have a book of short stories stay consistently brilliant the whole way through. I'd say about half of the stories were great--the pure
May 18, 2013 Constance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-story
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.
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.
Jessica Sparks
Jun 28, 2013 Jessica Sparks rated it it was amazing
Unclean Jobs For Women And Girls by Alissa Nutting
Publisher: Starcherone Books (October 1, 2010)
Genre: Fiction
In two words: Disturbingly Delicious.
Best paired with: Red Wine

The one thing that struck me the most about this collection of short stories is the honesty displayed by the characters and the writing. Nothing is sugar coated and that is disturbingly delicious. Alissa Nutting put her characters in surreal and dark situations but showed us the complexity and drive inside of them. At times I
Shawna R.
Jun 21, 2013 Shawna R. rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 18, 2012 Tess rated it it was ok
This book is a lot of shock and awe. The stories are basically an immediately jarring context + women having lousy sex + hilarious metaphors + an intense sense of loneliness + an attempt at a meaningful last line. I appreciate the creative situations she came up with and her humor (I did laugh a lot), but almost all of the characters are so underdeveloped they're basically placeholders. I didn't get the point of the mini stories like "Zookeeper" other than to show off the author's ability to com ...more
Aug 26, 2013 Angela rated it really liked it
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
Nov 08, 2010 Rose rated it liked it
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
Aug 26, 2012 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Alissa Nutting writing moves from the bizarre to the slightly-less-bizarre. The opening story in this collection, "Dinner", finds the narrator, along with others, being boiled alive to be eaten. "Our limbs are bound and our intestines and mouths are stuffed with herbs and garlic, but we can still speak. We smell great despite the pain." This isn't an attack on carnivorous habits, but a hysterical and weirdly poignant portrayal of what being truly and humanly naked might be. What do people say as ...more
Mar 18, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
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
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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.” 11 likes
“A lot of people who know about the view from the tip-top of a bridge or tall building are dead, because they climbed up in order to jump off. But sometimes I wonder if they truly planned on jumping or if the view was just so beautiful that they realized what a wide big net beauty is, and then wanted so badly to be caught by it.” 3 likes
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