Glenn's Reviews > Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante

Job Hopper by Ayun Halliday
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's review
Jun 12, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir
Read in April, 2005

In Ayun Halliday’s previous books, “The Big Rumpus” and “No Touch Monkey and Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late,” the reader is instantly made familiar with her sharp and shocking wit and easy writerly way with a cleverly turned phrase. Being such a subjective thing, writing humor is not easy. What I find hilarious may simply leave you cold. So it requires something more than just an ability to present a “funny” situation, and leave ‘em laughing as you go.

What Ayun Halliday does with almost criminal ease is root the humor is circumstances that widen the impact and identification of the moment. Even when describing a situation which the reader might think could only have sprung from her imagination, Ayun brings the reader in by tying her experience to the people, places and things around her. She is able to give the reader a specificity that makes it clear that the stories she tells are not mere archetype, but revel in the tiniest of details; her description of memories brought back by the simple opening of a returned costume box explode off the page into consciousness; an eye-opening “ah-ha” moment. Her description of an unctuous art saleswoman proffering a toast is both a passing your drink through your nose moment of shocking humor and a writer’s litany of perfect details.

And her book is full of these, both particular to the author, and yet easily transferable to our individual experience. Along the way she catalogues the small and not-so-small cruelties available to the average wage-slave striver, rejoices in the little, almost always temporary and sometime Pyrrhic victories that job hoppers all over the world are all-too-familiar with, and finally, escapes with even some of her dignity and sanity intact. We are all the better for her sufferings.

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