WILL WORK FOR FOOD OR $: A Memoir from the Roadside

Bruce Moody, Author . Red Wheel $24.95 (183p) ISBN 978-1-59003-031-8
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At the age of 60, Moody, a freelance writer (The Decline and Fall of Daphne Finn), actor and temp worker, was let go from his office job. Since he was ineligible for benefits, he found himself unable to pay his rent. Desperation and a chance encounter with a roadside panhandler led him to try his luck sitting by a southbound freeway exit in the San Francisco Bay area, holding up a sign with the words, "Will work for food or $." These unusual recollections of the year he spent supporting himself this way are compelling, despite some pedantic and rambling writing. Among other guidelines he developed, Moody pledged that he would take all work offered, bless passing drivers whether they contributed or not and try to run his begging operation like a business. He kept set hours, designated his earnings for specific expenses and arranged for company in the evenings. Moody was surprised to find that people he had discounted as too poor to give, in particular African-Americans, were generous. He accepted a number of menial jobs, including one where he performed backbreaking work building a retaining wall and then had difficulty getting paid. Moody found that most of the people he encountered were kind and spontaneous with donations of food and money. Drawing on reserves of inner strength buttressed by spiritual musings, Moody also endured the loss of his beloved sister from cancer, movingly recounted here. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Hardcover - 411 pages - 978-0-7862-6240-3
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