I enjoyed the premise of this book more than the book itself. As plenty of others have pointed out, Ehrenreich hardly engages with her coworkers on le...moreI enjoyed the premise of this book more than the book itself. As plenty of others have pointed out, Ehrenreich hardly engages with her coworkers on level ground, given the fact that she has a car, a few thousand dollars to start her off in each new city, and at least a few contacts from her upper-middle-class-life whom she can call for help.
Financial inequality aside, I found most of her "discoveries" both dull and unauthentic, since she obviously is approaching the situation from a completely different psychological position than her coworkers. Although she occasionally waxes poetic about what must be the negative effects (both mentally and physically) of working a minimum-wage job, she certainly does not experience these effects for herself, especially since she works each job for such a short period of time.
Overall, I think this book has an excellent premise. Perhaps if Ehrenreich had spent more time interviewing her coworkers and telling THEIR stories, this would be a more nuanced and sociologically valuable narrative. As it stands, however, Nickel and Dimed is really more about Ehrenreich's personal experience than about the working-poor themselves.(less)
This book was entertaining, but not as nuanced as some of Banana Yoshimoto's other work. I've read quite a few of Yoshimoto's novels and short stories...moreThis book was entertaining, but not as nuanced as some of Banana Yoshimoto's other work. I've read quite a few of Yoshimoto's novels and short stories, and her simple style always draws me in. Her writing often has a sort of naive tone to it, an overall innocent quality with an edge of deep wisdom. In this book, I felt like too many of the characters seemed overtly and almost stereotypically "wise," literally spouting perfect philosophical thoughts in a frank way that I found unconvincing.
Perhaps in one of her longer novels, this wouldn't have stood out to me so clearly. However, in "Goodbye Tsugumi," you really just get a sketch of each character (with the exception of Tsugumi and Maria, who are more fleshed out), and reading their philosophical responses to situations just seemed too perfect...too unreal. Tsugumi herself is so full of flaws--although Maria almost always casts her in a positive light--that I found it strange that all the other characters are so perfectly benevolent and thoughtful.
Anyway, that's just my two cents. I do think the book was a fun read and the connection between Tsugumi and Kyoichi, and their dogs was quite interesting. Overall, however, I definitely wouldn't recommend it to someone who hasn't read anything else by Yoshimoto. It's not her best work.(less)