The author describes this collection as fiction based on her life, but the stories read more like personal essays, detailing various jobs, from wildfire fighter to forester, sales clerk and taxi driver. Along with these tales is a candid account of Raney’s mental health problems compounded by on-the-job injuries.
Raney’s best stories come from her days as a taxicab business owner and driver — a short-lived career in Salt Lake City that appears doomed from the start.
“My first call is from a woman ordering a liquor delivery,” writes Raney. “The liquor store across the state line in Arizona is happy and so am I. I pull up in the driveway of the address I was given. A man comes out of the house with a bat. He says calmly, ‘My wife has an alcohol problem. If you deliver here again I will beat your head in with this bat.’”
While some of the anecdotes from her taxi-driving days were surely not funny at the time — drunks diving over the front seat or spraying her with beer — they do make for lighter reading after the fact. The stories that follow, however, are dark, as Raney shutters the business and ultimately suffers a psychotic break and contemplates suicide.
The writing here is clear and straightforward, but often lacks the arc necessary to engage the reader. Raney also frequently denotes random words (“menopause,” “deciduous”) with asterisks, offering their definitions at the end of the chapter. Most are words adult readers would understand. When necessary, however, the definitions could have easily been worked into the text.
This is an intelligent effort that will most likely be of interest to Raney’s friends and family, but might also serve as a launching point for a more developed memoir.
Also available as a ebook.