On ZNet, John Borsos begins his review of Rebel Rank and File with the prescient observations of militant labor activist Stan Weir, who noted in a 1967 article that “the rank and file union revolts that have been developing in the industrial workplaces since the 1950s are now plainly visible.”
Borsos finds in Weir’s article a foretelling of the revolts that followed:
The unrest that Weir first recognized in 1967 evolved into a massive insurgency: the strike activity of the 1970s reached levels not experienced since the strike wave of 1946; insurgent challenges occurred in most of the country’s major unions, including the United Mine Workers, the United Steel Workers, the United Auto Workers, the Teamsters, the United Rubber Workers and other unions; workers rejected contracts by their union leaders in record numbers; and previously unorganized workers, imbued with the social movement activism of the anti-war, civil rights and women’s movement, among others, pushed labor unions into organizing previously unorganized sectors.
Not only did Weir’s article signal “labor’s new era” of rank-and-file militancy, but Borsos finds in the article the seeds of the book Rebel Rank and File, which covers those days of “insurgencies from below.”
The Guardian’s Steven Poole embraces the expression that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” to its literal extreme in his review of Georges Perec’s The Art and Craft of Approaching Your Head of Department to Submit a Request for a Raise, also known as L’art et la manière d’aborder son chef de service pour lui demander une augmentation, also known as The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise.
Poole tackles the Vintage UK edition, released concurrently with the Verso edition, as he assimilates the stylism of Perec and circumperambulates about the task of reviewing the unconventional text—and, à la L’art et la maniere d’aborder (ou à L’art?), dispenses of punctuation and capitalization, writes in the second person, and establishes a series of hypothetical situations, all within the span of a single-sentence review.
To quote Poole mid-sentence:
… functioning as a satire for the author’s day and oh yes our own on the subtly crushing effects of corporate life which was always after all the genius of perec to marry a deeply humane melancholy with dazzling formal experiments of which this one is also a deftly recursive simulation of the choices facing the writer of fiction as the text circles back on itself with varied refrains such as …