cover image FIRST JOB: A Memoir of Growing Up at Work

FIRST JOB: A Memoir of Growing Up at Work

Rinker Buck, . . Public Affairs, $27.50 (416pp) ISBN 978-1-891620-73-7

In the summer of 1973, fresh out of Bowdoin College, Buck arrived in the newsroom of the renowned Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass., as a rookie reporter. In this exuberant, enjoyable memoir of his first year or so at the paper, which had just been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, Buck recounts his initiation: churning out obituaries and weather-related stories. Despite working long hours for little pay and butting heads with the city editor, Buck (now a writer and editor for the Hartford Courant) revels in his job, surroundings and colleagues. He energetically and humorously shares his successes, blunders, enthusiasm and insecurities, moving the narrative along with rich dialogue and bright descriptions of the people and mountainous landscape. The most memorable figures are the paper's publisher, Lawrence K. "Pete" Miller, an "inscrutable New Englander, a man of ideals whom everyone followed without quite knowing why"; and Buck's "scaldingly sarcastic" neighbor, Pulitzer-winner Roger Linscott, with whom Buck forged a friendship that still exists. That year, Buck writes, "We never tired of hiking, we never grew bored with each other, we never ran out of subjects to discuss. Linscott and those mountains together were the best benediction of all." Buck also weaves in unnecessarily long passages about his romantic and sexual escapades, which tend to be more self-indulgent than self-revelatory. A few dozen photos of the Eagle staff, friends and the local scenery are a nice addition to Buck's spirited tale of his life-altering first job. Photos. Agent, Sloan Harris. (Sept.)