"No idealization, Men Working is the most human book that has been written about WPA workers, the saddest and the funniest."
John Faulkner, a one-time WPA project engineer, has much to satirize in this broadly comic novel. First and foremost are the Taylors: exasperating and unemployable, they are unaccountably abiding; hopelessly destitute, they place a higher premium on a new radio than on food and shelter. Faulkner also casts a sardonic eye on the town merchants, who extend credit to WPA workers as quickly as they inflate prices, and, of course, on the WPA itself, an agency that entices naive, desperate country folk with the promise of a dole--only to lay them off and then ignore them.
In his foreword, Trent Watts establishes the singularity of Men Working while noting in it echoes of Tobacco Road, As I Lay Dying, and The Grapes of Wrath. Watts also identifies in John Faulkner's tone an ambivalence shared by many southerners who witnessed the changes wrought by "progress" upon their traditional way of life.
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