My book Jobless Recovery seems to have a lot of fans who love it, as well as a few readers who have told me they can't finish the book. It's too depressing, they say. I'm sorry, I say. If you'd just read on, you'd have seen that the ending sends the message that the human spirit is unquenchable and that there are always solutions.
Now the odd thing—or maybe not so odd—about the readers who find the book too true to life or too depressing to finish is that they are all men. It could be that the women who find it too depressing simply haven't bothered to share with me. They might be afraid of hurting my feelings. Or it could be more of a Venus and Mars thing. Who knows?
In my experience, men want to fix things. Tell a man you feel depressed today and most likely he'll assume a slightly panicked expressions and then offer a dozen solutions meant to cheer you up. He'll tell you to take a walk or he'll say maybe you're working too hard. If he's a significant other, he might buy you flowers and take you out to dinner. Of course, every woman knows, none of the above solutions is really helpful. All women want is for men to understand, but men want to fix things. It's hardwired into their brain circuitry.
After reading the first part of Jobless Recovery, which does hit very close to home, it seems some readers conclude there is no fix and they give up on the book. We're in a mess and there's no end in sight. Record unemployment, unfair trade bills, elected officials who can't get enough money and power, corruption at all levels of government, and a host of other ills are all contributing to the collapse of our once great nation. The United States is hurting. On their watch.
They feel bad about this, but the usual fixes they have in their playbooks won't work. The problem is too big. And a billion flowers sent to Washington won't do a thing.
Readers who read apocalyptic fiction enjoy the books and then they reach the end feeling relieved that those things didn't happen and they probably even believe those things couldn't happen. Aliens trying to take over Earth? A genetically enhanced leader with no conscience ruling the world? A supervirus that kills every male on the planet? Puh-lease. Thank God it's fiction, right?
But what about Jobless Recovery? Corrupt politicians. Corporations whose leaders worship the bottom line at the expense of the Americans who fight and die in the U.S. military to protect their interests. Unemployed people forced to take any job to feed themselves and their families. Record foreclosures. The list goes on. And there's no sense of relief that those things can't happen. We're living it. There is no easy fix, that's true, but as long as there's hope, it's not too late.