Elsewhere: Autobiography of Richard Russo

I’m listening to Elsewhere, the autobiography of Richard Russo. (If you’re unfamiliar with his work and are in academia I would strongly recommend starting with Straight Man.) The book will give most adults¬†a new appreciation for their parents. Russo’s mother followed him from Upstate New York to Arizona when he started college and then tagged along with him to every new town so that he and his wife could settle her into apartments, drive her on errands, etc.

The book is also relevant to today’s debates regarding a $ 15/hour minimum wage. Russo is a self-described liberal Democrat who unfavorably compares Arizona in the 1970s to his hometown in Upstate¬†New York. Arizona was growing fast and everyone who wanted one could have a job but at wages that Russo considered “crappy.” Russo’s hometown of Gloversville, New York, on the other hand provided jobs for only about half of those who wanted one but at union wages that Russo considered fair. Russo describes the abandoned houses and boarded-up shops of downtown Gloversville and generally moribund economy of the surrounding area but still preferred that to an economy in which everyone worked at a market-clearing wage.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

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