I've already shared a little about the book, but here's some more information to whet your appetite!
I was born and raised in Bethlehem, PA, the son of a steelworker. I worked at Bethlehem Steel from 1972 until the plant closed in 1999. Rigger is a memoir which begins with my formative days in high school, travels through some of the ways I earned or failed to learn a living after I graduated and was "waiting for the call" to join the Bethlehem Steel Co. Then come my experiences as a new hire at the Bethlehem plant and on the 42" mill, and culminate with my life as a Rigger. The Riggers were the "Bad Boys of Bethlehem Steel", the gypsies and pirates of the plant, taking on the highest, hardest and most dangerous jobs that other departments just plain didn't want to tackle.
Yet More About the Book
'Larry Neff's wry, sardonic, and deeply humane voice brings a forgotten era back to life. His memories of the many jobs he performed at Bethlehem Steel are remarkably vivid, especially as he recounts the wild and dangerous work of "the Steel's" renegade riggers. From the waning days of the Vietnam era to the waning days of a powerful American industry, Neff's Rigger recreates a world that many have forgotten, with deep affection for the men and women who performed the treacherous, back-breaking work of making steel. His book is a gift to his union "brothers and sisters," and to all of us who've stared at those long-quiet stacks and wondered what it must have been like to work, day to day, in the midst of them.
Joyce Hinnefeld, associate professor of English and director of the Writing Center, Moravian College and award-winning author of "Stranger Here Below", " In Hovering Flight", and "Tell Me Everything and Other Stories."
"Rigger-A Memoir from High School to High Steel will go down in literary history as one of the strongest, most dramatic real-life accounts of life inside the American steel industry. Neff takes his readers on a narrative tour of the old Bethlehem Steel plant, picturing in the clearest terms imaginable the complex machinery and intricate processes of this massive and crucial American factory. He gives us the characters of the plant with all the affectionate detail of Walt Whitman describing workers in “Song of Myself,” particularly the risk-taking, innovative riggers that were his brother workers at the Steel. More than a documentary of the steel making process and more than a story of working class experience, Rigger is a testimony, given in the voice of a union-made vitalist, of the pride, the anger, the joy and uproarious humor that thrived among Beth Steel workers in the latter decades of the plant’s life. This is literally heavy metal literature—a pounding story of the suspense, the danger, and the sublime sense of accomplishment that was the everyday fare of the adventurous, rule-breaking riggers. With this vivid account, Larry Neff and Blue Heron Books have made a more important memorial of American industrial history than any museum could hope to achieve."
Mary Lawlor, author of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War.
Here's a brief video about Rigger