Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The perks of the job

You may recall the case a couple of years ago of Joe Gordon, the Edinburgh bookseller sacked for maligning his employer, UK chain Waterstones (or 'Bastardstones,' as he preferred) in his blog. I'm reminded of the case by poet (and sometime bookseller) Tracy Ryan, whose latest collection of verse, Scar Revision, has just been released by Fremantle Press (I'm still getting used to that name change, Clive). Her poem 'Curriculum Vitae' is a thoughtful meditation on work and the worker and includes a section inspired by Mr Gordon's fate. Ryan seems to speak with some experience as she describes the job thus:

Refuge of intellect
Without resources, without room to move.
But huge compensations: books, and books,
And books, and special discounts, and first look-in
When stock's discarded. Teabreaks
Where no one minds you reading. It's the perks
They get you with, and once they do, you're got.

Sound familiar? The poem also contains a 'downsizing' episode that will ring a bell with quite a few chain booksellers. Well worth ordering a copy for stock just to have a read.

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