Janesville

What books, zines or other pulp are you reading? What aren't you reading? What should everyone else read?
MPMay
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Janesville

Postby MPMay » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:43 pm

I just finished Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein. If you haven't read it, do so.

It was one of the most difficult books I've ever read, unrelentingly depressing. I could only read 5-10 pages at a sitting without having to put it down. Several times I read 5-10 pages and had to put it down because the tears in my eyes made it impossible to read any more.

snoqueen
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Re: Janesville

Postby snoqueen » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:46 pm

I read it too, and I agree it was depressing.

It was also frustrating, because I kept waiting for the author to tie together some of the trends and events and draw a few conclusions (depending on her perspective, which never became clear to me but is the reason I like reading other people's thoughts). It was a journalistic catalog of miseries and woes, surely real enough, but I was left asking if that was all she had to say.

Weren't you waiting for her conclusions, which never came?

I would enjoy seeing other people's comments on this book. I read it over a year ago and can't quote anything from memory, so if asked to defend my conclusions I'm going to have to check it out of the library again.

Cadfael
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Re: Janesville

Postby Cadfael » Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:49 pm

I was in Beloit in 88 pr 89 when GM did its first big layoff and knew several people who worked there or in one of the dozens of support businesses that relied on the plant. Several of them were still there when the plant shut down for good.

I have a pretty good idea of what the process and conditions were like for families who had been loyal GM serfs for generations and have no inclination at all to revisit any of it. I'm interested in what others have to say about the book and compare that with what I remember but I don't think I could last ten pages.

A lot of people I liked, who had absolutely no other skills to fall back on, whose identity was defined by family and their job at the plant, who were educated only enough to function in a manufacturing environment but were too dependent on family to move where the jobs were, all went insane in some fashion or other for periods lasting weeks to years to never getting better.

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Re: Janesville

Postby ttt3 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:25 pm

I'm about halfway through it and agree it is a good read. Comparing today's world economy with the much more insular, "Made in America" economy back in the 50's - 90's is fascinating. This story can surely be told across many business types, from auto manufacturing to Janesville's own Parker Pens (which is also mentioned in the book) which also shifted manufacturing overseas. I really hope we can get someday back to businesses having enough margins and sufficiently little corporate greed such that they can take care of their employees and pay family sustaining wages. I guess that's probably just wishful thinking.

Also, this is an aside, but as a car guy, GM designed a lot of mediocre-to-crappy cars through a lot of the 80s and 90s which I think had a lot to do with their bankruptcy. I haven't seen that mentioned in the book yet.


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