Wednesday, November 14, 2012

50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man's Journey of Discovery Across America - by Daniel Seddiqui

Three years ago, when I was working on my "year of reading year of books" blog, I learned about Daniel Seddiqui's project to work for one week in each of the 50 states over the course of a year. He tried to select a job that was representative of the culture and/or economy of the state (e.g auto mechanic in Michigan; lobsterman in Maine; cheesemaker in Wisconsin). I was looking forward to reading his book, as it also fit in with my (then) upcoming year of Celebrating the States. My Geographer husband and I planned on reading this together when we picked it up at a bookstore in the summer of 2011. A few weeks later, but before we had a chance to start reading the book, we had the wonderful opportunity to host Shay Kelly of Project 50/50 at our home. After losing her job, Shay decided to travel to all 50 states over the course of a year and do a volunteer project in each one.  We asked her if she knew about Seddiqui's project. She told us that she had heard of him because he had contacted her to let her know that she "stole his idea". Hmmm, well this put us off of Seddiqui a bit, nevertheless, James and I started to read the book in January of this year. We finally finished it about a month ago. It took us so long because, frankly, we didn't like it much, and could only read small bits at a time. We would often set it aside for weeks before coming back to it, finally picking it up with a sigh that we should "probably finish it". We kept waiting for it to get better, but it read as if the raw writing from his diary or blog were published with few revisions.  It was poorly edited, rife with awkward sentences and grammatical errors, and had little in the way of the reflection I expect to see in a memoir, but much in the way of complaining when work was hard, or hours were long, or a job in the desired industry didn't pan out. Of course I was not only disappointed that he never considered library work, but also that with all the research he did (and I will say that he did an admirable job of finding appropriate work) he never even mentioned going to a library to do any of it. There is only one library mentioned at all - working in Arkansas as an archaeologist, he reluctantly turns over a horseshoe he finds to the artifact library.

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