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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:37 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Sorry Caro, but long sections of a novel devoted to describing computer work sounds incredibly boring to me. I'm not surprised you skimmed them! Smile



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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2104


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funnily enough Caro, what made me think of Police Analysts (they are distinct from detectives) is that I read about it on the blog of a crime writer whose day job it is. Not sure to what extent she uses it in her novels though - can't imagine an analysis of hotel booking times or public transport networks to try and connect crimes together would be most people's idea of thrilling reading!



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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1111


Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't read many stories about fighting but I expect many of them have quite detailed descriptions of the working life of a soldier, though probably there is little about hanging around and maintaining equipment.


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikeharvey wrote:
Has any one read the novel THEN WE CAME TO THE END by Joshua Ferris? Apparently it's a detailed and funny account of day-to-day life in a office.


Ah, yes, that's why I didn't fancy reading it!  Very Happy  So much for my claims to like reading about work. I think one of Joseph Heller's less successful novels was about something similar - was it Something Happened? I suppose I feel I've worked in enough offices over the years not to want to read about them these days.

Shirley Hazzard wrote about working in the UN in a book of short stories, and in The Transit of Venus there is a perceptive section on being a female clerical worker in a big ministry or similar in the 1950s or early 60s; only clever young women got in but then they were required to do the menial tasks for male bosses. Barbara Pym also wrote about women in similar situations, doing clerical and "helpmeet" type of work for fusty institutions. Because she often wrote about single and rather genteely-impoverished women she had to have them go to work.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2915


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've remembered now Andrew Martin's Jim Stringer novels, set on the railways around 1915.  They have considerable detail about his work and how these old engines and stations operated.  I think this would be very interesting for people with a mechanical bent which isn't me, but I still enjoy them a lot.  Don't seem to have read them in order.

I see he has also written a non-fiction book How to Get Things Really Flat: A Man's Guide to Ironing, Dusting and Other Household Arts.!  Must check if it's in our library.  My guide to ironing would just be 'don't do it - the wrinkles disappear once you put the garment on".  And my guide to dusting is 'shut your eyes'.  

Cheers, Caro.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 724



PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few years ago, I read a book by Magnus Mills, 'The Scheme for Full Employment', which dealt with the working lives of a group of van drivers and warehouse staff. The drivers spent all their time ferrying a cargo from one depot to another and it eventually becomes apparent that this is all there is to it. No end use for their delivery, no customer, no point whatsoever.

The book did become a little tedious in the end (but I seem to remember that it was quite short!), but on the other hand it was a brilliant metaphor for working life as experienced by huge numbers of people. On the whole, this novel does tend to support the view that reading about other people's work is often a not very interesting experience, but, neverthe less, it was quite a pertinent comment on the human condition!


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In The Woman In White, Walter Hartright is a drawing-master. Towards the end of the book he says that the mystery is only solved because he is poor; if he and his companions - two ladies of diminished means - had had the money to pay for lawyers to investigate they would never have got as far as he does in the detecting of the great fraud and crime imposed on Laura Fairlie.  They would have stuck to the rules and not have had such motivation to delve deeper as he did.

I was intrigued when he refers to selling his "practice" as a drawing master when he flees abroad. When he is just going to work in Cumberland for a few months he simply employs someone as cover. I had not thought of this job as a formal practice. Earlier in the novel he seems to move from job to job, and relies on a new client to pass on his good name to their friends, but I suppose he was selling his contacts book and his current set of clients.  He also talks of the professional manner that he puts on as he enters the door of each house where he has to teach young ladies -  and lean close and guide their pencils - so as never to get embroiled in any romance or, however unconsciously, encourage one, until he forgets this and falls for Laura. I found this interesting as it is just like nowadays, a professional repsonsibility and distance, when so many of the relations between men and women were utterly different then (the book is set in 1850). Though I don't think there was always much professional distance between teachers and students in the 1960s and 1970s (!) and it is only recently that they have been made more formal.  

There is also some detail about how Walter later makes a rather scant living by producing freelance drawings for a newspaper, and hopes to get taken on full-time. There is a pathetic bit where he encourages Laura's recovery from illness and trauma by getting her to draw again and then pretending that he sells her (obviously hopeless) drawings so that she can feel she contributes to the household purse, but really he gives her some of the money he has earned. Although this is sweet, I did feel that had she ever discovered it she would feel really humiliated.


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another one that comes to mind is William Golding's The Spire. I understand there is plenty of detail of the work of the stonemasons as they construct an addition to a cathedral. Generally considered one of his best novels.



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