Annie Proulx’s “Job History” is just what the title says it is. Set in and around Unique, Wyoming, the story of Leeland Lee’s various jobs and job losses is somewhat unique. The story is told almost as a series of lists with the exception of incredible paragraphs detailing Leeland’s physical appearance as a child or the same type of detail describing Leeland’s wife, Lori.
It’s easy to read this story with the mindset that Leeland and his family have incredibly bad luck as his job history is quite long and varied. Or with the idea that the setting is simply economically depressed and this is what happens in these places. This isn’t the first time that Proulx has equated Wyoming with bad luck. Poor Mero in “The Half-Skinned Steer” has great luck outside of his home state only for the bad luck to return as he makes his way back.
In spite of the continuous job changes, the story also tells of a resilience that keeps going through the bad times. Leeland may not be the most pleasant of characters, but I like him because he never gives up.