Pete Fromm’s latest novel, A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do, is a tender triumph by a writer who continues to navigate the human heart with a steady, knowing hand.
Taz and Marnie: Such a pair! He’s good with wood, bad with checkbooks. She’s feisty, smart and pregnant. Together they’re building a life for themselves and baby Midge (“just this tiny thing,” Marnie explains of her unusual naming, “that sort of holds the whole deal together”).
Except that Marnie dies while giving birth to her daughter, and the whole deal falls apart. Taz is left with a half-remodeled house, a brand-new baby who doesn’t sleep much, and occasional visits from his mother-in-law, sunk in her own grief.
Fortunately for all survivors, his best friend Rudy, “the international man of mystery,” swoops in to change diapers and make sure Taz keeps it together enough to raise Midge. When Taz is forced to return to work as a cabinet maker and carpenter, Rudy finds Elmo, a red-head with her own brand of feisty, to tend Midge.
A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do navigates the rocky terrain of love, tragedy and courage with humor and compassion. As in Fromm’s last novel, If Not For This, the only villain here is the uncertainty of life itself. His dialogue rings rich and true, his characters are people you know (or want to know), and the landscape – Missoula and the Blackfoot River – have the detail and luster that can only emerge from a skillful writer who knows and loves a place.
Fromm is a record-setting five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award, and his work is widely translated in Europe. Two of his works, As Cool as I Am and the short-story collection, Dry Rain, have been made into films. He’s on the faculty of Pacific University’s low-residency MFA writing program, and lives with his family in Missoula. Listen to Fromm discuss his new book on Montana Public Radio’s The Write Question.
– Kristi Niemeyer