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Toil: Building Yourself af Jody Procter

Toil: Building Yourself (udgave 2008)

af Jody Procter

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler
1311,228,116 (4.25)Ingen
In his journal of seven months on a job site, carpenter Jody Proctor tells of being an observer with a rueful eye, learning about building by seeing what not to do. Toil is also the real story of relationships on the job site--a complex intertwining of people, processes, materials, and elements.
Titel:Toil: Building Yourself
Forfattere:Jody Procter
Info:Chelsea Green Publishing (2008), Paperback, 240 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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Toil: Building Yourself af Jody Procter


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Jody Procter went to a fine university, migrated to San Francisco in a VW bus, became a hippie, spent his entire life writing while pursuing other work for money, and ended up as a carpenter. A lot like me. Toil: Building Yourself is Jody's meditative diary of one of the last jobs of his career, one rainy winter working as a carpenter building a McMansion in the Pacific Northwest.

As the newest hire on the crew, Jody was low man in the pecking order. He provides a detailed, graphic account of construction as viewed from the bottom. A bit too detailed at times. What I like best is when he steps slightly outside the job and considers the larger implications of what he's doing:

"Someday this house will be done, and we and all our voices and our inane chatter and our grim faces will be the ghosts of the workmen who built it, and whoever lives in it will know us only by the strange, unsettled sensations of movement and thought they pick up sometimes... We will have moved on somewhere else with our yearning laughter, our muddy boots, our hammers with their odd nicknames, our ladders, our wet nail-belts and tired feet, our fear of fuck-ups and death. And the house will be like our mountain and it will remain."

I like it when he tells us not what he's doing so much as how he feels about it: "When I'm at work, I like to work, to get into the rhythm of it, the perfection of it, the uninterrupted flow of it - on a really good day, the mystical, mantra-sounding, deep spirituality of it." This is a guy who recites his mantra while he's nailing studs.

We begin in November, 1994 with an empty lot, the first scrapings of the bulldozer blade "curling up rich, brown chunks of river-bottom dirt," and follow the work through the bickering and joking, the competition and the camaraderie. We meet Vern, the nearly unflappable contractor with a laconic Gary Cooper personality attached to a Don Knotts body. We meet Brian, the brash 19-year-old whose energy outpaces his skill set, who has a motor mouth, who thinks Rush Limbaugh is God and who, naturally, irritates the crap out of old hippie Jody. We meet Bud, whose one-year-old daughter is on chemotherapy and whose life is on the edge. We care about this crew, we watch them practice their craft, we understand how working on a construction site can be like immersing yourself in a nearly dysfunctional family.

Most of all we come to know - and worry about - Jody Procter, a man who, as the subtitle says, is building himself. Despite the humorous image on the cover, this man is haunted by some dark ghosts. First there are the aches and pains of a 51-year-old carpenter. But as a reader, I was less troubled by Jody's physical problems - which, as a 61-year-old carpenter, I am fairly acquainted with - and more concerned with his mental well-being. Jody grew up with wealth and privilege: "My father was a Republican businessman, a Harvard-club man, and a golfer ... whose only tools were the weeder and the trowel for the garden.... The work, such as it was, that was done to our house, was done by rough-looking working men, plumbers and carpenters and electricians who came to the house in their old trucks, and seemed to me as alien as if they had just arrived from Outer Mongolia. Now I had become one of them." And later he says, "I wonder, out of my graduating class, if I am now working at the most menial job. Would there be some sort of reverse accomplishment in lowliness?"

I hate that attitude. Having spent my own life in the construction trades, I've never seen myself as a failure. Most of the carpenters I know take pride in their work and in their livelihood. Only in literature, it seems, do we see ourselves as troubled, exploited, miserable laboring wretches. I suppose we can all be forgiven a bit of self-pitying. We have all been through some form of 12-step - it seems to be a job requirement.

But ultimately Jody does, in a sense, "build himself." You'll come away from this book with a sense of Jody's humility, kindness, compassion. You'll remember the humor and the love. And you may have a renewed appreciation of the depth of the word: Toil. ( )
  JoeCottonwood | Apr 1, 2013 |
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In his journal of seven months on a job site, carpenter Jody Proctor tells of being an observer with a rueful eye, learning about building by seeing what not to do. Toil is also the real story of relationships on the job site--a complex intertwining of people, processes, materials, and elements.

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