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Commentary

Eugenides: Writers on Work

Jeffrey Eugenides Nov 21, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: This is gonna be, as you know, a busy travel week. Lots of opportunities to get through a good book as you fly or ride to wherever you’re going.

As it happens, a lot of writers have been thinking about the economy lately — work, in particular. So in our commentaries this week, their interpretations of what people are experiencing.

First, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides.


Jeffrey Eugenides: My father was a mortgage banker. We used to have lots of mortgage bankers at our house growing up. You can imagine how exciting the parties were. I was used to lots of men in suits discussing interest rates in our living room.

So far I’ve written mainly about young characters who don’t have jobs yet, so I’m just inching into that territory. But recently I’ve been writing about young people graduating into the recession of 1982, so I’ve been thinking about unemployment — especially unemployment when you’re young and how daunting that can be.

I actually don’t agree with some of the most dire assessments. Having graduated myself in 1982, when jobs were hard to get, I don’t really agree that it’s going to hold down people’s income for the rest of their lives. Every day I’m hearing these terrible prognostications scaring the living daylight out of young people now.

It does get better. You can graduate into the middle of a recession and survive. I have a little bit of optimism because I can see it in my rearview mirror a bit and I know that we’ll get through it.


Ryssdal: The most recent book from Jeffrey Eugenides is called “The Marriage Plot.” Our series on authors and work continues tomorrow with Barbara Ehrenreich. Send us your thoughts while you wait.

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