books product management

On Jeff Gothelf’s “Forever Employable.”

Forever Employable: How to Stop Looking for Work and Let Your Next Job Find You.

A book by Jeff Gothelf.

Bookshop link. 

Sometimes my wife and I get into these conversations where I tell her about great advice I received, whether I read it in a book, or heard it from a colleague.

And she would say, “But I told you that before!” Which was sometimes true—I just didn’t recognize it as great advice then.

Sometimes it’s because of the way the advice is presented or framed, whether as a gentle suggestion or a swift kick in the pants.

Sometimes you hear something four or five times but the sixth time’s the charm.

Sometimes you’re just not ready to hear things yet. I’m reminded here of Nick Cave, on songwriting, emphases mine:

“You are not the ‘Great Creator’ of your songs, you are simply their servant, and the songs will come to you when you have adequately prepared yourself to receive them. They are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in.”

Some fortuitous combination allowed Jeff Gothelf’s Forever Employable to get in. Some of it has to do with my own receptivity, after being well-primed by some great managers of mine, and excellent career coaches along the way. But a lot of it has to do with Gothelf’s lucid, pragmatic style, and the way he gives you pointers to put into practice immediately.


On Gerald Brittle’s “The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren”

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing like a “Based on a true story” message at the start of a movie that drives a horror fan to Wikipedia afterwards. I’m guessing that I can’t be the only one who came to this book after watching James Wan’s The Conjuring, and the truth is that I picked up the book to be entertained — more specifically, to be scared. (Ed Warren may argue that this makes me a more inviting candidate for demon visitation, or a more innocent spirit manifestation, but at least I have better weapons now.) The Demonologist is touted as a reference book for exorcists-in-training, and you can’t get more authoritative than that — provided, of course, you give credence to the preternatural in the first place.


On David Peace’s “Nineteen Seventy-Seven.”

Deeply unpleasant but ultimately satisfying read. I can’t imagine that folks would go straight to Nineteen Seventy-Seven without reading Nineteen Seventy-Four first, so prospective readers would already be familiar with Peace prose:

The clipped, staccato rhythms.

Hypnotic in their repetition.

In their repetition.

The refusal to connect the narrative dots for the reader.

Words spat out like bullets from a machine gun etc.

Unpleasant: the torrents of profanity, the racism and misogyny, not to mention explicit violence, are relentless and punishing and not for the squeamish.

But satisfying: it’s nonetheless a hell of a page-turning read. Peace packs tension in between the lines, even in the most ordinary sequences (like in the many scenes of copious drinking). The reader’s patience for the damaged and obsessive protagonists is arguably tested by their tendency towards melodramatic torment — there’s an awful lot of drunken tears and suicidal self-pity, even more than characters in a James Ellroy novel — but the book on the whole is well worth the effort. Just don’t be surprised if you want to start viewing cute puppy videos on YouTube after reading the book just to shake the bleakness and grime off.


On Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island” (2003).

[Crossposted on Goodreads.]

VERY MILD SPOILERS CONTAINED INSIDE (you’ll have read the same in the book’s blurbs, anyway):

I love a good page-turner every now and then, and this novel — locked-room mystery, ghost story, haunted-house flick, cop thriller, in various amounts — definitely didn’t disappoint. (Especially when you’re on a plane.) But the success of the story is wholly dependent on some sleight-of-hand on Lehane’s part — nothing wrong with this, really, except that skillful construction doesn’t quite conceal the fact that Shutter Island is missing what Lehane does best. In Mystic River, with its Shakespearean dramatic arc, or almost any of the Kenzie/Gennaro books (except maybe for the weak Sacred), one had the sense that Boston and its people were living, breathing, essential characters in the story. (Other than the performances, this rootedness in place is what made Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, and Ben Affleck’s vastly underrated 2007 directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, so powerful.)

Would it be remiss to say that Dennis Lehane’s Boston is, albeit in a more limited fashion, as fleshed out as David Simon’s Baltimore? (Or Richard Price’s “Dempsey”?) It’s that sense of vibrant reality that’s missing from Shutter Island, the idea that a city and its residents had lived there long before our characters step on the stage.


On Brian Pera and Masha Tupitsyn’s “Life As We Show It: Writing on Film” (2009).

[Crossposted on Goodreads.]

I was really looking forward to picking up this book — movies being a passionate interest of mine — but found it to be a rather uneven collection. Organized, kind of, around the provocative question “if movie-watching has become in itself a primary source of experiencing the world, what kind of movies are our lives imitating?”, Life as We Show It features pieces that use “films and the culture that comes with it, as an ingredient for narrative impetus,” as coeditor Masha Tupitsyn puts it.