Monday, January 18, 2010

Lay-Off Lit With A Fresh Face

According to the New York Times, there`s a new genre hitting the shelves.

Sad tales of life after a lay-off are arriving in book stores near you. You might have read something similar a few years back. Jen Lancaster wrote it.

A victim of the dot-com bubble, Ms. Lancaster penned a memoir of her life before and after a lay-off. In Bitter Is The New Black, she took a humorous look at getting by financially when no one in the family has a job and the job search comes up blank, day after day after day.

The book was a best-seller and the author was saved from having to work another job as a mind-numbing temp.

It's a good bet that Alexandra Penney's memoirs, due out next month, won't have Jen's wit. The Bag Lady Papers, by the former editor of Self magazine (so yes, she has clout in the publishing world and a very, very large platform), will be full of tragedy and sorrow and there's no telling if people will want to read it. Especially those laid off from publishing houses who won't have a great deal of sympathy for someone with enough money to invest with Bernie Madoff, and not quite enough sense to recognize his scam.

Will anyone anguish over Ms. Penney's sad tale of woe? Can the average unemployed worker relate to a woman who sobbed over the sale of two of her three homes, and commiserated with working friends over lunch at the Four Seasons?

Editors at publishing houses tell themselves that anyone who lost a job could relate to the new memoirists, but booksellers have their doubts.

Most of us who struggle to earn a buck are not in the least bit interested in the hard times visited on the well-to-do. Jen Lancaster's popularity has as much to do with her funny take on life as it does to her background as an average American who attended a state university and was not born with anything resembling a silver spoon in her mouth.

We're waiting for a real memoir of a lay-off. We'd pay money to hear from one of the many synergies that Barry O'Callaghan realized when his little Riverdeep minnow swallowed Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt. What of those who lost jobs because of one man's dream, a dream that turned into a nightmare and is now slipping out of his grasp?

Lay-off lit? There are more interesting stories that might yet be written. But really, Jen Lancaster pretty much covered it already, and is the dot-com debacle all that much different from the real estate bubble-burst of 2009?


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid my tale isn't that exciting! But you've inspired me to keep my mind open to the possiblities...

O hAnnrachainn said...

A little exaggeration in a memoir is to be expected, isn't it?