Hardbarned! One Man’s Quest for Meaningful Work in the American South

Christopher J. Driver, illus. by Tarri N. Driver. Mill City, $9.99 e-book (310p) ISBN 978-1-63505-034-9
Based on his Hardbarned blog, this book is Driver’s fascinating and funny look at the three years he spent delivering, repossessing, and repairing portable storage barns in the rural South, ranging in size from tiny toolshed to “massive Greyhound touring bus.” Needing to pay bills after graduate school, Driver finds himself “working behind the wheel of a one-ton diesel pickup truck, dragging a 30-foot custom-built hydraulic lift trailer with a steadily building berserker rage.” His descriptions of the barns are hilarious: “They look fairly new for the most part, except when they’re converted into meth labs and accidentally explode, or when they’re cut to pieces and modified into dog kennels, horse barns, chicken coops, dance clubs, game rooms, garbage dumpsters, hunting lodges or temporary living quarters for incontinent adults.” His rage comes from having to deal with customers who don’t tell him that he must set up their barns “on the sides of hills; in between garages and broken-down cars; in creek beds and piles of mud and garbage; and amid rotten tree stumps, fire pits, discarded motor oil, broken High Life bottles, animal shit, charcoal and anything else imaginable, including dead bodies.” Unfortunately, Driver bogs down the narrative by including in it the various jobs he had from youth through college. The descriptions of these are interesting—especially when Driver talks about his career in a punk-rock band—but the strength of his writing is best shown in the chapters that describe his life with barns and their owners; these chapters would have made a powerful book on their own. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 08/23/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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