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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Barclay, Linwood: No Time For Goodbye | Main | Huler, Scott: No-Man's Land »

Jordan, Pete: Dishwasher

  

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Perennial © 2007, 353 pages
3.5 stars

In his memoir Dishwasher Pete Jordan writes about the twelve years he spent pursuing his unusual goal, to wash dishes professionally in all fifty U.S. states. Pete's quest landed him in plenty of run-of-the-mill diners and restaurants, but he also sought out unusual gigs whenever possible. He writes about dishing on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, and at a commune in the Ozarks. He washed dishes for snobs at a ski resort in the Rockies, and he worked salmon season at an Alaskan cannery. He "dished kosher" at a Jewish retirement home.

[INSET TEXT: And in most restaurants dishwashers have access to a steady stream of table scraps, which is likewise perfect for a guy who'd rather save his pennies than squander them on undefiled foodstuffs.] Dishing was the perfect job for Pete, a sort of cheapskate slacker whose idea of the good life was a rootless, near possession-less existence. Dishwashing jobs are easy to get and easier to quit--perfect for a guy who can't stay put in one place for more than a few months. And in most restaurants dishwashers have access to a steady stream of table scraps, which is likewise perfect for a guy who'd rather save his pennies than squander them on undefiled foodstuffs. Pete spent his dishwashing years traveling the country, crashing on friends' couches, freeganing out of the "dish tub buffet," and quitting jobs the moment--often quite literally--the urge to do so struck.

The surprising twist in Pete's story is that he became something of a celebrity. He started a zine dedicated to dishwashing, a staple-and-Xerox affair, which grew, incredibly enough, to have some ten thousand subscribers. He eventually attracted the attention of publishers, whose advances he rebuffed once he'd gotten a free meal from them, and even the producers of the Letterman show, on which he didn't quite manage to appear. It wasn't until Pete had hung up his dishrag for good that he seriously considered writing a book about dishing.

It's always interesting to learn about the inner workings of unfamiliar subcultures. Each has its own hierarchies and jargon and rules for acceptable behavior. Prior to reading Jordan's book it hadn't even occurred to me that there was a dishwashing subculture, but I'm happy to have been introduced to it. Jordan's descriptions of the process of dishwashing are interesting--I'm always fascinated to learn how people organize their work. And the characters he encounters while hopping from restaurant to restaurant can make for good reading:

"Most of my interaction at the restaurant was limited to the patriarch, the old man who paid me every week in a bizarre ritual. I'd stop by the restaurant during the afternoon lull. The old-timer would go to the register, count out some cash and then motion me to follow him into the corner of the dining room. He'd glance over his shoulder and scan the empty restaurant to make sure we weren't being watched. Satisfied that the scene was secure, he'd grab my hand, jam a clump of fives and ones into it and then force my fingers to make a fist around the dough."

But about halfway through, the book loses steam. The dishwashing-related historical snippets with which Jordan peppers his narrative are on the whole uninteresting. And the recitation of Jordan's own doings could have been pruned to make for a tighter read.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

Sounds like another 'great premise---flawed execution' book, possibly because it sounds like the book was really an afterthought.

2.

This guy sounds nuts! Really though, once you get over that, probably not a book that would hold my interest for long. Thanks for the frank review :)




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.