It is 2006, there is no recession and the author, Tom Acox, is working his way through graduate school hauling Philadelphia’s junk out of basements, dorm rooms, and backyards.
Welcome to the world of “Got Junk?”.
Some of the customers divulge intimate divorce details; others pass on leftover pharmaceutical freebies; and occasionally you’ll encounter long buried…bones!
Every morning holds a different Junking-partner-in-crime, and every house holds a different story. Sometimes, a house will even be holding your new couch and entertainment system as well.
What started out as an easy summer gig turned into this author’s most physically and mentally grueling job full of smart-mouthed gawkers, grape Gatorade, and more stuff than anyone could fit into their living room.
Don’t Junk This Book
Acox’s book is a familiar story for any recent or wistfully-reminiscent college graduate- with a twist. Done with school and looking to make some extra money over the summer, Acox describes life working for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?- a sweaty boys club where run-ins with desperate housewives and piles of muck are part of the job. An amusing, fast read Acox recounts each interaction with a customer in a separate chapter, ending with the loot he bagged at the end of the day. Beyond the light-hearted tone, Acox describes the divide between the client and the serviceman- with surprising (or not so surprising) insight to how one may treat (or mistreat) the other.
From sludge to bones, hilarious.
From the acknowledgements to the final chapter, this book is hilarious. Like, shoot coffee out of my nose hilarious, and I never waste coffee. Mr. Acox writes stories the way old friends share them in good bars, which is exactly how this book reads. It is engaging, witty, and wholly comfortable. It is a very worthwhile and highly recommended read.
That Tom Acox: A must summer read!
“This is what Mexico must taste like if you were to lick the terra.” Taste it. Smell it. Viscerally experience the nauseous, sweaty Got Junk world of rotting refuse juxtaposed with taut new leather couches and untapped liquor bottles–laughing your ass off the whole way through. It may not be Faulkner, but it teases with Jonathan Ames, slightly caresses with Augusten Burroughs, and makes out with Chuck Palahniuk. While the narrator, Tom Acox, begins as a somewhat annoying frat boy (of which the reader is reminded of repeatedly), he evolves into a sympathetic and empathetic craftsman, both in his physical tasks and in his ultimate endeavor–writing. The strength resides in Acox’s uncanny ability to relate to a readership raised on its parents’ Springsteen but searching for meaning through Gonzo PhDs, MFAs, and editorial purgatories.
Set to the soundtrack of everything from The Who to Tool, Acox leads you through labyrinths of detailed desecration and debilitation with riotous leaps through pop culture: “The house I toured looked like it had been up all night drinking Jack Daniels with Animal House, chased that with several pints of Revenge of the Nerds, then had sex with Van Wilder, just before Old School threw up all over it.” He even manages to slip in some Ferris Bueller.
The stories are poignant, and the descriptions will make your hair stand on end. The Junk pile is stacked with care. Acox portrays clients he encounters with compassion, without sparing scathing criticism and judgment. You know, as you chuckle through clients’ intimate disclosures, that the discomfort you feel is minimal compared to what was burning through Acox’s sheltered Irish cheeks at the actual moment.
He may have the “coldest bottle of beer [he] ever tasted” at least three times, but it’s a beautiful way for the days to end in Tommy Acox’s Got Junk. –“Around the last bend, the late summer wind exhaled on my face.”
Inviting and Refreshing
Acox’s book is a laugh out loud experience. While reading the book I found myself smiling as I visualized Tom in each of his moving experiences. He masterfully sets the scene with his dialogue and inner monologue. Acox’s witty running commentary is inviting and refreshing. Got Junk is a great read after a trying day at work as Acox pulls you into the underbelly of junk removal. Here is one of my favorite excerpts:
On the way to the truck Lew decided Robert looked like Ice-T on Law & Order: SVU. I agreed, an older version. He dressed the part of a flashy urban business man but his mannerisms were refined. He didn’t look like the kind of guy who would go out drinking on the weekend; he went out carousing.
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