For an indie writer, a starred review from Kirkus is a rare and lovely accolade.
Here's what they said:
A general contractor and author looks back on a 35-year career contending with a variety of houses and people—most in disrepair.They got it wrong about "Southern California," but I guess from Manhattan anything west of the Hudson River is southern Cal. For the record, it's mostly about the San Francisco Bay Area with stops in upstate New York and St. Louis and Colorado and a bit of Maryland.
Beginning when the author was just starting out as a novice handyman in the 1970s, this collection of short essays roughly progresses through to the present day, when, despite numerous tumbles off ladders and at least one impaling, Cottonwood is still plying his trade. The many blue-collar jobs that Cottonwood (Clear Heart, 2009, etc.) wonderfully describes in his latest offering may involve worm-gear saws, ladders, lighting fixtures and the like, but they’re really all about people. Some are wealthy, some poor, but all are frail in some way and in need of some proper shoring—that includes the ace carpenter himself. Each vignette confidently stands on its own, whether several pages long or only a few paragraphs. The robust snapshots of the carpenter’s working life toiling in crawl spaces and basements around Southern California over the last four decades consistently play on important themes of mortality, class and personal fulfillment. Elegant entries like “A Working-Class Hippie” and “The Airplane Room” touch on the often ephemeral nature of close human relationships. A vague sense of melancholy pervades much of Cottonwood’s work, even in the midst of relative triumph, such as when Cottonwood receives a check for a job well-done: “This simple act always fascinates me: the transfer of wealth. So casual. So vital. A rich man of immense power, a tradesman with none. What if he refused?”
Expertly crafted narrative nonfiction that reveals the framework of people’s lives.
You can see the official review at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/joe-cottonwood/99-jobs/.