Sometimes fiction’s allure is its ability to transport us to worlds unknown, providing an escape from the pressures of daily life. At other times, fiction is at its very best when it fixates upon the things that we know intimately. It can act as a mirror, providing us with insight into the lives we are leading and the world around us, and it can even uncover desires buried deep within ourselves. These are the goals that Jim Kokoris aims to achieve in The Pursuit of Other Interests, and the result is an illuminating read.
Kokoris tells the story of Charlie Baker, the erstwhile CEO of a major advertising firm in Chicago. Charlie has been running on empty trying to keep the sinking company afloat while the economy tanks, so it is an unpleasant surprise when he is unceremoniously fired (and to add insult to injury, deemed “frenetic” in the process). Desperate and scared, Charlie meets with an outplacement agency meant to help him get back on his feet and back out into the workplace; after all, it won’t be long before his severance pay runs out. Maybe if Charlie is really lucky, he can find a new job before he is forced to tell his wife that he has lost his old one.
Kokoris allows his readers, along with Charlie, to explore what can happen when the day from hell seemingly has no end in sight. At a time when job security is nonexistent and many are contemplating unexpected career changes, The Pursuit of Other Interests speaks to the fears of many. However, contrary to its dreary subject matter, it is ultimately an uplifting journey, rife with self-discovery and a re-examination of priorities. As Charlie bumbles his way through shopping on a budget and reconnecting with his teenage son, it is with a potent blend of humor and humility that we are reminded of what really matters. Life may be a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs, but with Kokoris at the helm, readers are guaranteed an unforgettable and meaningful ride.
Stephenie Harrison writes from Nashville.