UNSUNG HEROES OF AMERICAN INDUSTRY

Mark Jude Poirier, Author . Talk Miramax $22 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6827-8

Poirier (Goats) takes his readers for a walk on the wild side of working life in this collection, a brief but wide-ranging affair consisting of five stories about some bizarre cottage industries. "Buttons" starts things off with the odd but noteworthy history of the notorious Badde family (the "Royal Family of Pearl Button Making") as they move from the button industry to a series of successful but off-the-wall ventures in egg farming and marketing. Farming is also a major theme in "Worms," which describes the mismatched but entertaining marriage between a worm farmer and a profile reporter that ends in tragedy. "Gators" concerns a beautiful backwoods Louisiana girl who escapes poverty to make a name for herself in fashion by designing colorful alligator shoes. "Pageantry" moves deftly into the world of appearances as Poirier uses a sharp protagonist to outline the cutthroat competition in low-level beauty pageants as contestants try to work their way up the ladder, while "A Note on the Type" relates both a quirky young man's obsession with a deli worker and his family's success developing typefaces. Like David Sedaris, Poirier is a sharp, funny writer who has plenty to say about the lurid, tabloid side of modern American life, and while most of his characters are rather limited he never lets his curious story lines drift into excess or affectation. Readers who like to explore the stranger aspects of human behavior will find plenty of material here. Author tour. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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