February 07, 2006

The Murdering of My Years by Mickey Z.

$15 check made out to Mickey Z.Subtitled "Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet", the author sent out questionnaires to 22 people whose life work is in activism or art, and asked them how they keep it together financially. The people range from 64 to 22 years old at time of publication and are all over the map in almost every other measurable demographic. The book is structured with a section of bios of the various respondents followed by sections for each question with attributed excerpts from responses to that question. The questions are about current financial situation, jobs held, work experiences, selling out, ideal work situation, impact of decision to be artist/activist on various aspects of life, inspirations, resources, and advice.

I don't think I'd say that I learned anything from the book, but it was interesting to read through all the answers. There aren't a lot of commonalities with this diverse crowd of people. I was struck by how mundane their work experiences are for the most part. Temps, McJobs, and other typical "unskilled" labor was the most common work background. The other things that seemed to be common were debt, parental support, and just plain getting by on not much money.

When they were talking about their chosen life goals, however, the tone was completely different. Passionate expressions of determination, excitement, and pleasure abounded.

I think I would have enjoyed reading the book a lot more if it hadn't been chopped up by question. I'd like to have been able to get more of a sense of the individuals, and it was almost impossible for me to do that when I was getting only a paragraph or two of any one person at a time.

I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone (especially anyone still in college) who's considering an idealistic life path. It probably won't dissuade you (not that it should), but it gives a starkly honest picture of what that choice can mean as it relates to work and money.

Almost forgot, the title is from Charles Bukowski who said, "I always resented all the years, the hours, the minutes I gave them as a working stiff. It actually hurt my head, my insides, it made me dizzy and a bit crazy. I couldn't understand the murdering of my years."

Posted by jeffy at February 7, 2006 11:39 PM
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