Levison, Iain 1962-
LEVISON, Iain 1962-
PERSONAL: Born 1962. Education: Earned B.A. (English).
ADDRESSES: Home—Philadelphia, PA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Soho Press, 853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Author and restaurant worker. Worked variously as a mover, fish cutter, cook, caterer, oil deliveryman, computer-wire installer, film-set gopher, and bartender. Military service: U.S. Army.
A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Since the Layoffs: A Novel, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Iain Levison writes about his long, varied work history in his first book, A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember. In addition to his humorous description of his work experiences, in his book Levison also comments on his vision of the workplace in the United States.
Levison feels his military experience and his college diploma—which he dubs a "$40,000 fly swatter"—were impractical. For a period of ten years, he writes, he took job after job, never staying anywhere for more than three months. His motto is that if he cannot get a job he likes, he would rather vary his bad-job experiences. Among the forty-two jobs Levison worked in six states were mover, Alaskan fish cutter, oil deliveryman, cable pirate, cook, caterer, and film-set gopher. From his experiences, Levison concludes that the corporate world disrespects its workers and treats employees as replaceable.
Levison's funny anecdotes are the heart of the book. He tells how he bled into glasses of Merlot wine while catering an event. One employer promised health insurance after ninety days of employment and then fired him on his eighty-ninth day. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that the author's "droll sense of humor eases him (and readers) through the tough times." Other reviewers, such as Library Journal's Christopher Brennan, maintained that humor is not enough to carry the book: Levison "makes little effort to improve his lot," Brennan commented, adding that the author's "employment history is an entertaining read, but there is no reflection or analysis that would be useful to others."
Levison again deals with employment issues in his debut work of fiction Since the Layoffs: A Novel. In this dark comedy the protagonist, Jake Skowran, loses his job when the factory in his Wisconsin home town closes after finding cheaper labor elsewhere. Jake begins work as a Gas 'n' Go convenience-store clerk. After his girlfriend leaves and his gambling debts mount, Jake's bookie offers to erase his debt if Jake will kill the bookie's wife. Not only does Jake agree, but he works as a paid assassin three more times. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews called Levison's first novel "a witty, deft, well-conceived tale that combines sharp satire with real suspense."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2002, Michele Leber, review of A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember, p. 1287; February 15, 2003, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Since the Layoffs: A Novel, p. 1049.
Entertainment Weekly, April 26, 2002, Dalton Ross, review of A Working Stiff's Manifesto, p. 140.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of A Working Stiff's Manifesto, p. 161; January 15, 2003, review of Since the Layoffs, p. 107.
Library Journal, April 15, 2002, review of A Working Stiff's Manifesto, p. 112.
Publishers Weekly, March 18, 2002, review of A Working Stiff's Manifesto, p. 89.
Creative Loafing,http://www.atlanta.creativeloafing.com/ (April 30, 2003).*