Callings The Purpose and Passion of Work By Dave Isay (80’s?). Some of the work Dave has done operating StoryCorps has made its way into books. This one, inspired by Studs Terkel, concerns work. Stories of how people view their work turns out to be both riveting and uplifting! The personalities you encounter -- friends interviewing coworkers or children interviewing their parents -- make a living doing something they love. Their tasks might not be glamorous, but their pride in making the world better is heartwarming. Take Angelo the sanitation worker. He thought of his job as helping the neighbors he greeted by name and cared about. He wishes that everyone could have as fulfilling a career as he had. Many of the interviews show how determinedly folks have pushed away such obstacles as race, gender and disability. A little thing like blindness couldn’t get in the way of Laura Martinez, whose dream was to be a chef. Ronald McNair, an astronaut who was killed in the Challenger disaster, overcame the racist librarian in South Carolina who would not let him take out the books he so longed to read when he was a little boy. Whether a dentist, an ink removal specialist, a subway conductor or a draw bridge attendant, these people love what they do and feel fulfilled by the contribution they are making to the other residents of the planet. Clearly, Dave Isay has found his calling.
Nov 6, 2018
Herb’s Pajamas, Stories by Abigail Thomas ’59. New Yorkers are trained not to wonder what is behind the mask as they pass anonymously by fellow New Yorkers. Herb’s Pajamas tells of the poignancy, humor, and emotion that goes unnoticed in four denizens of a neighborhood way up on the west side of town, whose lives marginally intersect as they go about their business. If they are in any way representative of the millions of lives in the city, then it is no wonder that we are reluctant to delve too deeply. What is going on with our neighbors risks overwhelming us. Walter, for instance, recites Dover Beach , Matthew Arnold’s powerful argument that love can be the antidote for the loss of faith, as a sort of mantra even as the love that sustained him evaporates. Edith, a fifty-two year old virgin, out to buy fish, worries about future memory loss. “Edith wondered what it would be like when she could no longer be sure of carrying the word fish in her head long enough to buy some. As if the word would slip away, swim back to some dark place, some liquid grotto in her brain. . .” Abigail’s language is infused with freshness, and her tender treatment of her characters imparts to them more love and understanding than they experienced in their lives.