Jeff Glor talks to DW Gibson about "Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today's Changing Economy"
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
DW Gibson: I was speaking with my editor, Colin Robinson, about "Black Wednesday" - the day in 2008 when he lost his job at a large, commercial publishing house. It was a combination of his story along with our discussion (and admiration) for Studs Terkel's WORKING that led to the idea of capturing an oral history of the depression that the US fell into after the housing market collapsed in 2007. It was affecting for Colin to share his story-- likewise, for me to hear it--and we realized there was something illuminating about sharing stories of enduring unemployment.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
DW: I was surprised by how intense it was to revisit the stories that people shared. I didn't realize how little I had processed the gravity, frankness and vulnerability of these stories in real time. It was only upon listening to the tapes again, and editing the transcripts, that I absorbed so much of the nuance, emotion and humanity for the first time. Over the course of our cross country trip collecting the stories we were working at such a breakneck pace there was so little time to absorb what was actually being said in these conversations so there was somewhat of delayed reaction on my part--something I think I'm still going through.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
DW: If this refers to wild dreams then I would certainly be a future Hall of Fame baseball player. In a more realistic frame of mind I think I might have liked to get involved in politics and policy. Seems like a messy racket but, for better or worse, I think I could do okay in those waters.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
DW: I've been reading a lot of about the psychology of being laid off (what little has been written about it) and also a lot about labor in general--everything from Louise Uchitelle and Howard Zinn to Andrew Ross and Barbara Ehrenreich.
JG: What's next for you?
DW: Another substantial oral history project, except not nearly as time sensitive--something that I can develop a bit more deliberately over a few years. But I'm not quite ready to let the cat out of the bag regarding the subject matter--stay tuned.
MORE VIDEO:DW Gibson talks about the common thread that runs through the many interviews he conducted for his book, "Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today's Changing Economy."
For more on "Not Working" visit the Penguin Group website.