By Ethan Cooper
Just about anyone who's ever gone out into the working world has held a job like Tom's Job: a job that is a real J-O-B, not a career. It's the kind of job that pays the bills (barely) but isn't a lot of fun. That's what allows a reader like myself to connect with this novel.
Tom's Job follows Tom Howell through five days of his life as he attends a big conference in New York. Tom works as an editor and writer of business newsletters for a small publisher in Minneapolis. He is also the ghost writer of a biography for a business titan, Jack Ostron, who has cameos in Mr. Cooper's previous "Smooth in Meetings" and "In Control." Every day Tom trudges to work to endure the interference of his annoying boss Bob before heading back to his bachelor apartment. The only bright spots in Tom's life are the bi-monthly visits of his seven-year-old daughter Katie and his work on a novel about corporate life called "Smooth in Meetings."
Tom's trip to New York becomes complicated by the presence of his boss's daughter Lisa, who is also Tom's boss, and a beautiful but reckless conference coordinator named Melanie. As if this isn't enough to juggle, Tom has to put up with Bob and Sandy, an obnoxious newsletter writer and would-be self-help guru. Plus there's the countdown to the conference Tom has to host. Even as everything seems to be going wrong, finding a way to muddle through is Tom's Job.
This was an engrossing book for me because I felt a real kinship with the character. As someone with a dead-end job, bachelor pad, and annoying boss--everything but the adorable daughter--I could really sympathsize with Tom Howell. At his core Tom is a dreamer and idealist who'd be happier chatting about literature or writing his own opus, but like most of us (especially in this economy) he has to make ends meet however he can. And so the struggle for Tom and all of us is to find some way to stay sane in this workaday world while part of us yearns to be free of it.
That is all.