Presto chronicles the adventures of an employee for a temp agency as he goes out on what often seem like absurd assignments for which he occasionally has to make up the rules as he goes along, improvise. As the sequence deepens, we see this unidentified character in later work situations. His attitude seems unchanged as he deals with the absurdities life throws his way.
Presto by Charles Rammelkamp is available now.
What a supremely textured, sharp-witted and absorbing book Presto is. Rammelkamp explores the temp job experience brilliantly—that multivarious, short-term universe where a factotum shapeshifter resides only for a moment. That wet cement terrain one steps into for fast cash, then gets out of before it has a chance to harden.
—Robert Scotellaro, author of God in a Can and Ways to Read the World
In Presto, a man goes on a succession of short-term McJobs for a temp agency called...Presto, where the biggest joke of all is the promise of full-time work. Assignments as diverse as survey taker, security guard, house painter, phone salesman, and pretzel vendor become springboards for Charles Rammelkamp’s wry, spot-on workplace observations. These Chekhovian slices of life are a welcome response to capitalism’s “dignity of work” con job.
—Peter Cherches, author of Whistler’s Mother’s Son
As an answer to the ubiquitous question – what do you do? – Presto takes us on a journey through the world of work as a Presto – a temp agency that sends the narrator on all sorts of jobs (most of which he’s convinced he isn’t ready for) and somehow ends up, catlike, on his feet. An easy and very likeable read, Presto will bring you back to your own tentative years before you knew for sure what you wanted to be when you grew up.
—Francine Witte, author of Just Outside the Tunnel of Love
In Tell Me About Yourself, an old man looks back on his time in the East Village in the mid-1970s when he drew pictures of people, mostly tenants in his apartment building, and made the eponymous request to them. The resultant twelve drawings matched with the brief responses make up the greater part of this funny and melancholic work. The drawings, rendered in the men’s room graffiti style, and a rudimentary version of the responses actually were created about fifty years ago.
Tell Me About Yourself by Max Popov is available now.
In Max Popov’s Tell Me About Yourself, an old man recalls when, while living in the East Village during the mid-70s, he asked neighbors in his tenement building and others he met in local haunts if they would pose naked for a drawing and respond to a single request: Tell me about yourself. The art brut (“raw art”) drawings reveal the character traits and states of mind of troubled souls. Their brief, sometimes comical, responses are as revelatory as their undressed poses. They speak of things odd ("I eat mud radishes”), confessional ("I can’t stand my wife"), self-delusional (“All you have to know is since then I’ve wised up”), fantastical ("My head is like a plant, of which great things were once expected"), and weighty ("I’m secretly seeking a dispensation. Don’t I deserve one?”). These matched drawings and reflections are a peephole view of what people ordinarily keep hidden, sometimes even from themselves.
—Albert Mobilio, author of Same Faces and Games and Stunts