[Book Review] A Good Days Work by John Demont

A Good Day's WorkWhatever part of the country you originate from, you likely have an allegiance to that particular province, city or region. And even though I’ve lived in Toronto for five years, I will always stay true to my Maritimer roots. That’s why  on the first page of John Demont’s A Good Day’s Work, I sat up a little straighter and became a little more alert after reading,

Halifax is a good place to be because of what it is – easy on the eye, a little crazy, naturally laid-back without being drearily tranquil.

It was that moment that I thought that if John Demont clearly understood the Maritime philosophy of living, that his new book was going to be filled with other Canadian insight.

I’ve yet to mention what the plot of this book is and I don’t know if I’ll be able to sum it up as clearly as John Demont does, so I’m going to take another quote from his book to help give you some insight as to what you’ll get if you pick up A Good Day’s Work.

This book is the quest to distill some essence of our shared experience through people who make their living the time-honored way. By that I mean in a manner attached to the historic traditions, performed with the kind of pride that comes from doing something right and well, not just for the money but for its own sake. I wanted to meet these people now because they are just as endangered as the rare white-headed woodpecker. Like a Tilley-hat wearing anthropologist I needed to see them in action in their natural habitat becasue someday soon no one will know what a milkman or lighthouse keeper does in the same way we are puzzled by the notion-makers and corwainers of olde. I wanted to observe those challenged breeds up close for the same reason that I wanted to talk to ranchers, locomotive engineers and traveling salesmen. The great forces of globalization, technology and what we have take to calling progress are allied against them. Their time may be coming, just as it seems to be near for drive-in movie projectionists, blacksmiths and doctors who make house calls.

The reporting for this book took place in the early 21st-century when the world was everywhere in turmoil and flux. These, then, are really wistful dispatches from a distant era and a simpler time.

The fact that my career (online marketing) and social media didn’t exist in the world of publishing 4 or 5 years ago isn’t lost on me. My career and many other jobs are evidence to prove that the world of technology has altered our work force significantly over the years. That’s why a book like A Good Day’s Work is needed, to teach not only myself, but other individuals about the jobs that helped lead a pathway to the workforce we all know of today.

As I mentioned above, this book kicks off in Nova Scotia and from there we head West, meeting individuals with careers that are no longer as John Demontprominent today as they once were, but still very much relevant. Along the way, you’ll be introduced to a milkman, a travelling sales man, a record store owner and many more individuals that take you through the art of what their job now requires and how it’s changed over the years. Of course, a big part of each story is learning how each individual has had to grow and adapt to the changes that have taken place. For instance, the radical changes to the music industry in the last ten years have caused record store owners to have to come up with alternative ways to create business. John Demont visits the owner of The Vinyl Diner in Saskatoon and explores the many ways he’s had to adapt his business with the changing times. In an effort to help explore this idea even more, John Demont asks readers to recall those feelings of how we all felt walking into our local record stores or Sam the Record Man’s doors. A time before iTunes? I’m only 29 years old and I remember waiting with baited breath to go to Sam the Record Man to pick up the newest NSYNC album (don’t judge me). I specifically remember standing and impatiently waiting for the manager to open the door so I could get my hands on a copy of that CD. Ten or so years later, with a couple of quick swipes and clicks, I can download any album on my iPod, while wearing my jogging pants.

John Demont has an incredible way of capturing not only the nostalgia of specific work, but the importance of jobs that have helped shaped the world we live in today. His writing doesn’t just describe a person’s field of work, his writing immerses you in their world. You don’t have to be a history buff or a person that lived in an era when the jobs he writes about were booming, but you do need to read this book. It’s a book that matters and its a book that you’ll be thankful you have on your shelf for years to come.

A Good Day’s Work is available in your local bookstore today.

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