On his blog, Roy L. Pickering Jr. wrote Jam, a short story about a middle-aged man getting laid off from the job he had held for years. My feelings about this story are rather mixed up. I liked it, but I felt that the author could have adjusted a few things to make it even better.
Throughout the story, Floyd does a lot of self-reflection, remembering his youthful zeal for adventure and his dreams of a wondrous future that were never fulfilled. The woman, who was at his side as he ventured out into the world, has left him, rejecting him for being too passive. The job that was supposed to be his ticket to success betrayed him, dumping him for younger blood. His youthful passion has drifted away as the toils of life have sucked him dry.
The thing that made me want to write a review of this story was the ending. Although I don't want to give it away, I have to say that it is the ending that makes this story worthwhile. It was a bit jarring and unexpected. The character didn't seem the type to respond in this fashion. He had seemed so mopey throughout the story. But I know that, when everything is going wrong and the world is set against me, there is only one way that I respond, and that is exactly what Floyd did. I recommend reading this story just for that moment, when Floyd responds to the whole situation at the very end.
Last December, I was laid off from my job of 10 years. It was an awful experience, training my incompetent replacements, and I left the place bitter and angry but at the same time oh so thankful to finally be free of that oppressive environment. So in many ways, I identified with the character's situation. But Pickering should have played up the drama a little more. There was so much more he could have said and done to draw the reader in a little deeper.
I felt that Pickering was in his character's head too much. There was very little showing and a lot of telling, like when he went to the office and his old coworkers ignored him. Pickering talks about them ignoring Floyd, but instead, he could have had Floyd tell a joke to lighten the mood or say farewell. It would have made his invisibility more poignant, and it would have set us, the readers, into the scene rather than just in the character's head.
In conclusion, I would give this story 3.5 stars.