Catching Out: Life in a Day Labor Hall

Dick J. Reavis, Author . Simon & Schuster $23.99 (203p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5479-3

Though a writer and English professor by trade, Reavis found himself taking on the role of a day laborer to help supplement his retirement and savings. Appearing at the local labor hall to “catch out,” that is, get picked for a job, Reavis, who wrote about illegal immigrants in his first book, Without Documents , becomes one of the millions of Americans who work all manner of manual labor gigs and are, economically and socially, “living on the edge,” as he lugs boxes, digs ditches, and hauls debris with fellow workers. Despite each of the jobs being unrelated, the book is held together by Reavis's central focus on the plight of a working class that has no health insurance, for the most part must rely on others for transportation, and, in many cases, may not even have a home to return to at the end of a long day. Also to his benefit, Reavis allows his colleagues—hard drinkers like Real Deal, shirkers like Tommy, softies like Office Skills, and hard workers like Sung—to take center stage in his tales, which run the gamut from humorous to heartrending. This ability to bring the small successes, daily struggles, and measured dreams of these “down-at-heels” working stiffs makes the book's final chapter, in which Reavis outlines the legal and economic reforms needed to help day laborers get fair wages and treatment, overwhelmingly persuasive. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/30/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010
Show other formats
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4391-5714-5
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-4391-5480-9
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