Thursday, July 25, 2013

Working for Heat / Donovan Sotam

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Humor/Short Story Collection

Approximate word count: 6-7,000 words

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Donovan Sotam describes himself as “Portuguese by origin,” which will seem pertinent when you read the explanation for this book title. He also has a second volume now available, Working for Heat II.


“A collection of short-stories centered around the working world. Surreal aspects of everyday workplaces and exaggerated characters, that we can all, unfortunately, relate to. Working for heat is a direct translation of the Portuguese idiomatic expression - “trabalhar para aquecer” - which, very roughly, translates into working to no avail. A humorous satire about the working world.”


A small collection of three short stories, each about the workplace, its humor and frustrations. I found that each story had both good and not so good things, although not the same things from story to story.

The first story, Severance Coffee, was my favorite (at least as far as the content of the story goes). It’s about an employee who is being laid off, in spite of being the best employee in her department. (We not only have her opinion on this, but also a bit of evidence to back up her contentions.) I found the two main characters in this story, Jenny, the employee being let go, and Victor, the senior manager doing the dirty deed, to both be sympathetic (anyone who enjoys firing an employee isn’t much of a person and he was nervous, to say the least). The biggest problem with this story is the abundance of typos, also an issue with the third story.

The second story is called, The “older you get, the less you work, the more you earn” Paradox. Yes, that whole thing is the title. He shot his wad there. There isn’t much else to say. The story itself doesn’t add much. There’s a bunch of ridiculousness (which isn’t meant in a bad way, these stories are over the top on purpose) with an ending that leaves the reader with nothing more than a short chuckle at best.

The collection ends with The Forgotten Chosen One. In the book’s description, one word used is surreal. This story might fit that word the best. It’s the most bizarre, the least true to life, yet I can see how, depending on a reader’s taste in fiction, how this could be considered the best of the bunch. One reason is the ending. The first story just kind of died. It made sense, but left me wanting something more or different. The second did nothing for me. This last story came to a logical, satisfying ending.

Format/Typo Issues:

An abundance of typos (often a missing or incorrect letter) and other minor proofing misses for a book of this size.

Rating: ** Two stars

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