Courtesy Skyhorse Publishing

‘Now for the Disappointing Part’ Is a Book About Selling Your Soul to Amazon on a Temp Basis

Work work work work work.

The nature of work has changed significantly in the past 50 years, and it’s frankly kind of amazing that there’s not rioting in the streets over it. Think about it: At one point in American history, employers were expected to offer full-time jobs with benefits and a retirement program. Fewer and fewer Americans ever enjoy that kind of a relationship, and the rush into piecework only gains speed with the passage of time. Part-time work, gig-economy work, and temp work all have drastically reshaped the roles of employer and employee, and as benefits have disappeared, wages haven’t increased to make up for the lack of health care, pensions, and even vacation, which used to be standard parts of the contract.

In his new memoir Now for the Disappointing Part, Seattle author Steven Barker is churning through the American job market, grabbing hold of temp job after temp job before being swept back into the riptide again. He seems to be on unemployment in every other chapter as he waits for the next (temporary) job offer to float past.

Barker has worked for most of the big Seattle-area tech firms—Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia—and his memoir is built on the strange, almost inhuman culture that has developed in the temp economy. Every job comes with its own language and customs. Every interaction is freighted with expectations and subject to an inscrutable corporate hierarchy that temps are not allowed to understand. Prospective employer and employee eye each other warily in the interview process, trying to determine exactly how much they can strip-mine out of each other before the arrangement turns fallow.

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

More in Arts & Culture

Robert Colescott, <em>George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook</em>, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 108 in. Courtesy Seattle Art Museum, photo by Jean Paul Torno
Re-Presenting Black History in Art

Seattle museums look to foster a conversation with their spring visual art exhibits.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
The Trans-cendent ‘A Fantastic Woman’

The brilliant Chilean Oscar nominee actually lets a strong trans person play a lead trans role.

Illustration by Taylor Dow
Compassion and Care

A Pisces sky emphasizes empathy and Universal love.

Evan Flory-Barnes (center) preps for On Loving the Muse and Family with his therapist. Photo by Shasta Bree
Working It Out

Evan Flory-Barnes is finally stepping into the theatrical spotlight. All it took was some therapy.

The family of <em>Hir</em>. Photo by John McLellan
The Sunset of Masculinity

Hir at ArtsWest gives trans voices a stage to dismantle the normative.

Paula Madrigal teaches young Latinx musicians via her Young String Project Outreach. Photo by Ted Zee
Ballard Civic Orchestra Gives Seattle a Latinx Orchestral Voice

Led by immigrant Paula Madrigal’s strong vision, the group reaches audiences both young and old.

Photo Courtesy Chuff Media
                                Lorde.
Spring Arts 2018 Critics’ Picks

Plan out your calendar with our selections for the season’s best entertainment events.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Ani Collier
The Bleeding of Ballet

Technique and transgression fill stages this spring as two styles become one.

Illustration by Taylor Dow
Social Studies

A solar eclipse in Aquarius reveals what’s next.

Chawick Boseman as Black Panther. Photo courtesy Marvel Studios
Serious Power

Black Panther builds a stunning sci-fi African world, but could use more comic book fun.