BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Not the end of the world?

Here's another deal snagged from that B& after-after-after-holiday sale … which is sort of a two-for-one, as it's both something of a comedy book, and it's something that I can feature in The Job Stalker as a career book! Such a deal. Now, as I've pointed out previously, getting stuff for $2/copy tends to eliminate some filters, and, generally speaking, these books are not things that I sought out, so going in on them I don't have any major expectations, so it's a bonus when I find myself being enthusiastic about one of these, after the reading.

Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed is listed as being “written and edited” by Annabelle Gurwitch, but this is primarily a collection of other people's stories, so I get the impression that “collected and edited” would probably be closer to the truth, except for the section she contributes on her own experiences, and the introductory essays (and, I suppose the identifying paragraphs that follow most of the 55 entries).

This is, as one could gather from the subtitle, the stories of people who have been fired from various jobs, covering a wide array of situations from high-profile editorial posts to the unhappy characters who got fired mere hours into menial jobs. Gurwitch is an actress/writer and most of the tales here were evidently collected through entertainment industry contacts. There are a few “famous” names adding tales of their career mishaps … Bill Maher, Tim Allen, Bob Saget, Harry Shearer, and even non-comics such as Robert Reich (Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration).

Most of these are reminiscences of youthful false-starts, although a few are about very visible public flame-outs (such as Saget's getting pushed off the CBS Morning Program), and being fired by the truly famous (Gurwitch's own termination by her idol, Woody Allen, or an ad agency gal who managed to be fired by Leona Helmsley three times). They range from one-page e-mail responses to five-page essays, with a couple of interviews, a recipe, and even a song (with full sheet music).

The book is organized in five sections, “The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired”, “The Firing You Didn't See Coming”, “The Time You Deserved to Be Fired”, “The Time Getting Fired Leads You to Something Better”, and “The Time You Had to Fire Yourself” … with a dozen or so pieces in each, giving the book something of a flow (as opposed to the “type” of firing being randomly distributed through the book). However, one added piece serves to give this a slight whiff of gravitas, a “fired fact” add-on to most of these, which serves to put some hard numbers to trends drifting through the stories. Here's one head-scratcher from these:
Percentage of workers satisfied with their jobs earning less than $15,000 a year: 17.
Percentage of workers satisfied with their jobs earning more than $50,000 a year: 14.
Percentage of workers who would like to fire their boss: 20.
Because on one level Fired! is somewhat of an “insiders joke” for the entertainment industry, the humor used can get a bit raunchy, best exemplified by the awesome line in Dana Gould's piece: “Over the years I had my hand in more pilots than an Air Force proctologist.” … showing the wit that eventually landed him a job as a writer/producer with The Simpsons.

As one might expect, given the bargain price at which I obtained my hardcover copy, this particular edition of Fired! is out of print, although available from the new/used guys for as little as a penny used and as little as a buck new … but it's also now in a paperback reprint via (Amazon doesn't seem to list that one). If you're looking for a way to help yourself or a friend through an “involuntary separation” experience, this could be a great way to raise the spirits. This is no earthshaking tome of career revelations, but it is a very interesting and engaging look at how many people (several quite familiar) had to deal with these sort of challenges!

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Tags: book review
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