Congratulations to J.R. Helton, whose Bad Jobs and Poor Decisions is on The National Book Review‘s list of “Five Hot Books”!
5. Bad Jobs and Poor Decisions: Dispatches from the Working Class by J. R. Helton (Liveright)
“Helton spent the Reagan years in Texas, stuck in an endless loop of menial, dead-end jobs, a shaky marriage, and a life dulled by marijuana and other recreational drugs. While hauling firewood, selling pumpkins by the side of the road, and working with sad Vietnam War veterans, Helton banged out fiction on his portable Smith Corona manual typewriter — and dreamed of success as a writer. After success with one short story, nothing worked out, and Helton re-enrolled at the University of Texas, threw himself into term papers and exams, quit drinking and smoking, and gained a perspective that makes this memoir about life in the trenches of the working poor particularly poignant and — given our current state of affairs — timely.” The National Review of Books