Temporary (Emily Books)

by Hilary Leichter

Paperback, 2020




Coffee House Press (2020), 208 pages


Fiction. Literature. HTML: In Temporary, a young woman's workplace is the size of the world. She fills increasingly bizarre placements in search of steadiness, connection, and something, at last, to call her own. Whether it's shining an endless closet of shoes, swabbing the deck of a pirate ship, assisting an assassin, or filling in for the Chairman of the Board, for the mythical Temporary, "there is nothing more personal than doing your job." This riveting quest, at once hilarious and profound, will resonate with anyone who has ever done their best at work, even when the work is only temporary..

User reviews

LibraryThing member sharonstern
It's hard to describe this lyrical, epic, funny and weird book, but I really loved reading it. It is safe to say I haven't read anything like it!
LibraryThing member CarrieWuj
This reads like a Phantom Tollbooth for adults. It is clever beyond description, in a fable/fairytale telling of the world of temp work. Lots of wordplay and imaginative genre-bending - it includes an origin myth of how the temp came to be (the gods wanted a day off and relinquished their key
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cards, pass codes, etc) and then a very non-linear narrative, with some flashbacks of a single, nameless temporary worker who embarks on water work, blood work, sky work, home work, memory work (all chapter titles) all in pursuit of the "steadiness" or permanence, not only in employment but in the world. My favorite was the stint with pirates (Adventure Capitalists) and all the hilarious puns and satire that went with it (the motivational kitten poster: there is no purr in pirate). But under all the whimsical, fantastical scenarios there is a deeper meaning about putting down roots and investing in one place or one person (she also has an accordion-pleated picture string of anonymous boyfriends, identified only by their dominant trait: the culinary one, the tall one, the pacifist, etc) and how that investment (another play on words) is a two-way street, here, with actual traffic. The book also gives a really interesting, fresh perspective on the nature of gig work and the effect on the psyche of being labeled "temporary." The epigraph sets this out: "It seemed to me that if she could remain transient here, she would not have to leave." (Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping) If you like a traditional story, this book is not for you and you will be frustrated and disappointed. If you like to grapple with ideas, play with language, and abandon yourself to imagination for a short read, you will be completely delighted. Published by Coffee House Press under an Emily Books imprint (promoting women writers).
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LibraryThing member nzlibrarygirl
A unusual, surreal story of a nameless temp sent on various bizare placements (including piracy, assassins and barnacles) by her agency while in seach of "steadiness" and permanency. Took a bit of orienting to get into the story - but a quirky read that I'd like to have a second go at.
LibraryThing member quondame
Idiosyncratic and surreal, this book isn't necessary but it is essential. There are some absolutely stunning sentences. A bizarre riff on employment and identity intersectionality, which I admit is not a thing, it fails only when it is pushed into having meaning.
LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
'Temporary' features a temporary worker in search of a sense of permanence. A work of absurdist fiction, the temporary worker cannot be expected to work the usual temp jobs you would associate with the position, but rather ends up covering for an assassin and filling in on a pirate ship. The story
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works much like a nightmare, with disorientating jolts and the sort of writing that has you questioning the nature of what you're being told. I liked it - more so as it went along, though I was glad the book did not overstay its welcome, as there's only so much you can have your temp do in this modern Kafkaland before you begin to wish they'd just stop...
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LibraryThing member rmarcin
This book is best described as bizarre. The main character is a temp - filling in for people in various jobs. But she is fulfilling these jobs in somewhat of a fantasy world. The characters keep re-appearing in alternative situations.
Not only are her jobs temporary, but her relationships are
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The writing is very good, and the story is quirky and has an interesting message, but this book isn’t the kind of book for me.
#Temporary #HilaryLeichte
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LibraryThing member steve02476
This novel was funny and demented, but turned a bit sad. Weird to read novels about working, at least one other one I read this year was like that (Severance). I’m looking forward to reading more from Leichter.
LibraryThing member kayanelson
Easy read, but I’m not sure I got the point. It was supposed to be funny and I didn’t have any laugh out loud moments.
LibraryThing member JRobinW
Though it does capture the challenges of what it's like to be a temp, it's a bit pointless for me.
LibraryThing member booklove2
Another dose of weird reading for me! It's short. It's sweet. It's bizarre. It has the spirit of Alice in Wonderland almost, if Alice kept trying at a bunch of ridiculous jobs. The main character here is a temp, born into being a temp, from a long line of temps, and has the eternal goal of
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Steadiness. Permanence. I suppose it says things about the gig economy. Some fantastic word twists here. The writing reminded me of the spirit of 'Oreo' by Fran Ross (but dialed way way down. No one could out-Ross Ross herself.) A gem from a small publisher. I can't believe this book is only from 2020. I feel I have seen it around for a decade (but it's THIS decade, sooo...)
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LibraryThing member Andy5185
This book was so creative, quirky and profound. I basked in the beauty of the writing, giggled and got teary too!


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