Work Place Literature

Anonymous's picture

After Sarvas notes that he purposely avoided too much description of Harry’s work life as a radiologist, Wolitzer notes, “people don’t want to write about actual work in novels, I’ve noted . . . I think writers sometimes like to sort of say what the job is and then don’t want to actually put in the time.”

Strout points out that she is interested in the world of work in her writing, and Dan mentions Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, which Ed Hirsch agrees is a now classic depiction of the work place. In addition, Sister Carrie surely comes to mind as well when discussing the depiction of work in the novel.

What work novels, or poetry about work, do you know and like, and what do you think of the panel’s general conclusion that work is an underwritten subject in American Literature?

g.m.'s picture

I agree with the panel's

I agree with the panel's general conclusion, although a couple of works come to mind right away and I'm sure that others have more: Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's play; Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates which details the work life of a struggling copywriter in a big corporation; and, don't forget, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Interestingly, all will have been made into movies as Sam Mendes is directing Revolutionary Road due out in December. I found Yates's book to be very accurate as it mirrored many of my own experiences in copywriting for an ad agency. I wonder whether novelists shy away from digging into, as it were, the details about work, because they are trying to get away from that life altogether and striving for something "other".