cover image The All-American Industrial Motel: A Memoir

The All-American Industrial Motel: A Memoir

Doug Crandell, Author Chicago Review Press $22.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-55652-616-9

This sharp, assured memoir, a follow-up to Crandell's childhood account Pig Boy's Wicked Bird, is a blue-collar work diary-as-coming of age trial, covering the summer of 1990 in Lagro, Ind. One credit shy of becoming his family's first college graduate, Crandell returns home to work in the ceiling tile factory where his father has worked since the family lost its farm. When he's not attending his Psychology of Sexual Behavior class an hour away, Crandell works 12-to-16-hour shifts alongside his father and the other imposing men of the Local 536 Paper Workers Union. The endless, numbing work at the factory leads Crandell to take up speed, a habit he shares with his father's long-time friend Jerry. Crandell's advancing drug dependence mirrors his father's struggle with alcohol and an affair, as well as the progress of asbestos-related illness in several factory men. Throughout, Crandell struggles with the idea of what makes a man: is it working with your hands? Can a real man make a living off words? And, perhaps most importantly, how do men comfort one another in times of grief? This sad, sharp memoir is graced with humor, hope, a strong sense of place and a winning narrator, making it a fine example of the form.