Work like Any Other: A Novel
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: March 2016
Duration: 8 hours 6 minutes
Roscoe T. Martin, the son of an Alabama coal foreman, set his sights on a new type of power spreading at the start of the twentieth century: electricity. It became his training, his life’s work. But when his wife Marie inherits her father’s failing farm, Roscoe has to give it up, with great cost to his pride and sense of self, to rescue the farm for the sake of his marriage and his family. Realizing he might lose them all if he doesn’t improve the place, he enlists the help of his black farmhand, Wilson, and begins to use his skills as an electrician to siphon energy from the state, ushering in a period of bounty and happiness on land that had been falling to ruin. Even the love of Marie and their child seems back within Roscoe’s grasp.
Then a young man working for the power company is electrocuted after stumbling on Roscoe’s illegal lines, and everything changes: Roscoe is arrested for manslaughter, Wilson is leased to a coal mine, the farm once more starts to deteriorate without electricity, and Marie abandons her husband as he goes to trial, leaving him to face his twenty-year sentence alone. No longer an electrician or even a farmer, an unmoored Roscoe must now carve out his place in a violent new world. Climbing the ranks from dairy hand to librarian to “dog boy,” an inmate who aids the guards track down escapees, he is ultimately forced to ask himself once more if his work is just work or if the price of his crimes—for him and his family—is greater than he ever let himself believe.
Gorgeously spare and brilliantly insightful, Work like Any Other announces a major work from an incredible young talent—a deeply affecting story of dispossession, injustice, and redemption that explores the lengths to which the broken among us push forward.
“A striking debut about love and redemption, the heavy burdens of family and guilt and learning how to escape them. Powerfully told and lyrically written, there is not a false note in this book. Reeves is a major new talent.”—Philipp Meyer, author of The Son