RCC Honors History Project

Translation Nation and the other interviewers

Posted by dmcneal347 on June 3, 2009

When reading Translation Nation or any of these books that the authors have gone out there and interviewed people, it kind of makes you want to go out there and find out what its like today. Has anything changed? I think that Studs Turkel’s book would have been more effective if maybe perhaps he took photos of where the workers lived and how they lived (like Jacob Riis. I know it’s already way to long but maybe if after the printing of the book working, he sent out a photographic collection. Then he would make twice the money because I think after reading the book people would definitely go out and buy the photos.

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4 Responses to “Translation Nation and the other interviewers”

  1. nrohr said

    I like what you said and I know what you mean. When I looked at the pictures in How The Other Half Lives, I would think, each and every one of these people has a story. Especially looking at some of those poor kids, I wanted to know about them and what happened to them. Riis provides fewer individual stories than he does a broader narrative, while Studs Terkel does the opposite in Working. It sounds a little cliche to say this, but absolutely everyone has a story and I think that there is something fascinating about all of them. I always think that when I look at people. That’s why a book like Working is so interesting, because it tells the stories that we might not often hear.

  2. dmcneal347 said

    yeah and I dont know if you do the same thing, but I can help but try to picture what this people look like in working. For instance, when he was talking to the steel worker, I cant help but imagine a big “rough” guy who could probably tear me into two pieces. or like the hooker, I cant help but picture one of those old hookers you see on the corner of 7th street (in hesperia, CA)that you know she has had some issues just by the looks of her. Whenever I drive down seventh street and see those girls I always think “How could they do that? How can they just give themselves up to anyone and not think about diseases?” After reading Working and Translation Nation, whenever I drive by all the mexicans on pigeon pass in moreno valley, I wander what there life is like and I always want to go talk to them. I must admit before reading these books I looked at them as if they were under cutting the construction laborors becuase I was once worked construction and it didnt feel good when the boss could just get rid of me and pay two mexicans with the same amount.

  3. nrohr said

    It’s interesting because in Working, with the different rhythms of each interview, I would imagine their voices. I could hear each person saying the whole thing. I think I’d imagine their appearances, and also the scenes, too.

    I can certainly understand you feeling that way about construction work. It’s a bad system. But one of the things I guess we’ve become more aware of is that on both sides, there are just people and they all have stories.

  4. chad612 said

    The photo book I brought in to class, Working (I Do It For The Money) by Bill Owens, was very close to that for Studs Terkel’s book. It was from the same period (published in 1977, but the photos were taken over several years) and covered a lot of the same professions, including steel workers, prostitutes and Mexican laborers. I’m sorry I couldn’t figure out a way for people to look at those Owens books longer, but I would still recommend them.

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