The Jig of the Union Loller
The Jig of the Union Loller

Michael Burnham

Comics
A loller is a shirker, a slacker, a goof-off, an idler, a goldbrick, a dirtball, a ne’er-do-well—all of which define Claude Amognes’s behavior quite nicely. So he’s a good-time Charlie who smokes and drinks too much and does as little work as necessary; but while all these things are true, he’s also a delightful Falstaffian character. He's what makes reading this book such rollickingloll v. lolled, lolling, lolls—intr. 1. To move, stand, or recline in an indolent or relaxed manner. 2. To hang or droop laxly. loller n. That’s the dictionary definition. A loller is a shirker, a slacker, a goof-off, an idler, a goldbrick, a dirtball, a ne’er-do-well—all of which define Claude Amognes’s behavior quite nicely. He’s lazy and selfish; he gets into trouble taking short-cuts at work at the power company while depending on the union to bail him out; having got his job only because his father was the union president, he is never in danger of working himself to death—in fact, taking advantage of the sick-leave policy his father negotiated years ago, he has no difficulty in using the slightest indisposition to generate a week or two of sick leave where he can recover by fishing and boozing. So he’s a good-time Charlie who smokes and drinks too much and does as little work as necessary; but while all these things are true, he’s also a delightful character and fully human. He loves his daughter Jamie and in his own way also loves his long-suffering wife Joan. He alone makes reading this novel wonderful, rollicking fun. Years ago when he began his career with the electric company as a meter-reader, he’d been attacked by fleas in a basement and had to flee for his life, swatting and scratching up a storm. That incident had earned him the nickname “Bugsy” with his union brothers. Later after a scheme to get full disability and a comfortable annuity fell through when Mr. Schulke, his boss, had video proof he was faking his headaches, this traumatic attack of fleas comes in handy. Delightful in a Falstaffian way as Claude is, he is surrounded by dozens of other fully realized characters who add breadth and depth to this wonderful novel. At one point we even get the point of view of a trout! In short, The Jig of the Union Loller is a page-turner. It offers quite a picture of work in America along with much wit and wisdom about human behavior and the human condition.
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