Loafers Unite!

nothing.jpgI always appreciate that whenever I go into River City Books it’s as though I enter a new store. The pleasantly organized tables of new books are constantly being refreshed with the latest and greatest titles and they are so neatly arranged that I can’t help but take a gander at each one. While doing just that the other day I had one of those eureka moments when you think you've found an author who wrote a book especially for you. This happened to me as I came across Doing Nothing by Tom Lutz, a book about couch potatoes, goof-offs, freeloaders, good-for-nothings, loafers and loungers.

No, in fact, the book in question is not my long-anticipated memoirs.

Rather, it’s a spirited examination of the changing place of leisure in America. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, when the work ethic as we know it was formed, there has been a chorus of slackers ridiculing and lampooning the pretensions of hardworking respectability. Reviled by many, heroes to others, these layabouts stretch and yawn while the rest of society worries and sweats.

Whenever the world of labor changes in significant ways, the pulpits, politicians, and pedagogues ring with exhortations of the value of work, and the slackers answer with a strenuous call of their own: “To do nothing,” as Oscar Wilde said, “is the most difficult thing in the world.” From Benjamin Franklin’s “air baths” to Jack Kerouac’s “dharma bums,” Generation-X slackers, and beyond, anti-work-ethic proponents have held a central place in modern culture.

Moving with verve and wit through a series of fascinating case studies, “Doing Nothing” revises the way we understand slackers and work itself.

And it’s an inspiration to those of us with altogether too much spare time.

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