Monday, November 17, 2008

Joe the Other Plumber

"Joe the Plumber," also known as Samuel Wurzelbacher the unlicensed plumber who doesn't pay his taxes, is coming out with a book. I've been watching his 15 minutes of fame with detached amusement, but now he's threatening my status as the only published plumber named Joe.

Yes, me, Joe Cottonwood. I was a plumber. And an electrician. And a carpenter. If you read the bookjacket of my novel Famous Potatoes, the 1979 edition published by Delacorte, it says: "Joe Cottonwood is a young novelist living in La Honda, California. A 1970 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Joe Cottonwood has been a computer operator and now earns his living as a professional plumber..."

For the record, I am now a licensed general contractor. Back then, I was a handyman who did a lot of plumbing. The bookjacket could just as easily have called me a handyman, or a carpenter, or an electrician. I was all of those things. A French journal printed a long article in which some French critic made a big fuss about the fact that in America plumbers were publishing novels and how that could never happen in France. I'm not sure whether the critic was for or against the phenomenon of publishing plumbers. Him being French, and me being American, I suspect he was against.

I wonder what that critic will say now.


  1. I'm glad that I'd only seen about 14 minutes and 30 seconds of the faux joe and was curious enough with the 30 additional seconds I was willing to give him to click through to your site and the vrai joe. I know you remember that plumbers were all the rage in the 1970s. . . g gordon liddy, etc.

    Your site and writing is a feast.

    I love the title Famous Potatoes. . . I'll be back for more.

  2. Hey, thanks. And you're in upstate New York! I just posted an update, Joe le Plombier. Now to read your linoleum thoughts...