the blessing of work

Photo by MIchael Metts

I’ve been reading The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Bottom, and the book itself is a joy.

It’s well done literary non-fiction, an exploration of work in ten fields, everything from being an accountant to the manufacturer of cookies.

I can’t begin to do justice to the literary and philosophical texture of these essays, but his style is almost poetic, as when he describes how a supermarket supply chain flies “blood-red strawberries over the Arctic Circle by moonlight, leaving a trail of nitrous oxide across a black and gold sky.”

De Bottom’s purpose is to explore the beauty and occasional horror of work in the modern world. If you read his chapter on cookie (biscuit, since he’s British) manufacture you may never eat snack food again, not because it is unsanitary, but because the process itself is so sterile it has no connection or resonance with home or hearth.

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