Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oddly Enough

I just finished reading, Odd Jobs, a great page turner of a thriller by a first time novelist. I read the book in two evenings. Could not put it down. Very impressed by the pacing, the detailed story and the interspersing of humor within a thriller context. Written in the first person, the main character is both sympathetic as well as willing to do whatever necessary to reach his goal. I highly recommend the book. Since I am not a regualr book reviewer, I will leave out much more as I do not want to spoil the book, but if you like thrillers, take the time to read this book.

So why am I telling you this? Well, this first time novelist is a bond trader who lives here in Chappaqua. His name is Ben Lieberman. Here is a link to the book on Amazon. Here is a link to Ben's website and here is a link to an interview he did when he won the Tommy Award for excellence as a first time novelist. (Ben Lieberman author of Odd Jobs)

Ben and I are acquaintances, having several friends in common. We may have met several times. One of my children is friendly with one of his. Despite our tenuous connection, Ben spent 10 minutes with me in the parking lot of the A&P discussing his book. I had heard he had written the novel and saw him on line in the store. I merely intended to congratulate him for getting published when we started to talk about the book. His enthusiasm for the book and for the process of writing a novel for the first time is contagious. At the time, I had not yet read the book but had read several interviews and reviews. His willingness to discuss the concept behind the title and the editing process as well as the entire publicity and marketing "campaign" that is required was so interesting and fascinating.

We also discussed the premise behind the title to the book, Odd Jobs. Ben, using his own experience as well as from many many conversations remarked how the "od jobs" we all have had at one point in our life has had a profound impact on who or what we eventually become. It is a terrific observation Ben makes. I spent one summer in the customer complaint department of Sieman's Furniture. As a 17 year old, I did not even know some of the words that were coming out of the caller's mouths. I am very sure that I cannot put the broken furniture in the place they suggested.

I spent another summer working in a factory as the assistant to the gofer. His name was as far as I could get, Tony "Coca-Cola". By day, when I was with Tony, he did handy work around the factory floor, ran errands, picked up and sorted the mail as well as any other undocumented small job around the factory. It took me three days to get the guts to ask him the question that was burning in my head since the moment I met him. I finally blurted out, "Hey Tony, how come you are driving a Cadillac and talk about your pool and wear all that jewelry when you are the gofer around here?" "Kid", he replied, "this is my day job. On the weekends I have another job. I pick up envelopes. Each week I go to a list of addresses given to me by my boss, ask for the envelope and go on my way to the next pickup. If they have the envelope, great. If they don't, the next week when I go try to get the envelope, 9 times out of 10, the guy who I am getting the envelope from has either a leg or arm cast and several bruises."

"Tony, you work for the f*cking mob!" I shouted in surprise. "Kid, you're real smart. You're going places with that quick thinking of yours. Now, stop thinking and start doing. Turn the f*cking label machine on, huh?" Toward the end of the summer, he did offer to take me to his weekend job. I declined. Oh, and when I told Tony I really wanted to get tickets to this one concert, but it was sold out, two days later he handed me an envelope with four good tickets to the show. When I asked how he got them and what I owed him, he responded, "I was talking to my boss about you kid when I told him about the concert. Next day, Big Joey hands me the tickets to give to you. You never ask Big Joey where he gets things, but he must have noticed the surprised look on my face because he said to me, 'What are you looking at? I found them on the ground.' Here kid, enjoy."

Here is a quote from Ben's website:
People who read the novel often ask how much of this is from my own personal experiences. I usually say for sure one thing - I never killed anybody. I leave the rest up to them."

1 comment:

#5 said...

A question arose as to why I wrote about a book when this is a blog about my BoE thoughts. I fixed that. I changed the about this blog page to reflect that from time to time I might write about whatever I want.

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