A Novel

Book - 2006
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"Company: the Novel That Answers the Big Questions. What are the relative merits of sleeping with your boss versus someone at the same level? Which causes the more spectacular career implosion? When is physical violence an appropriate response to management policy? The Mission Statement: It can’t be that incomprehensible by accident, can it? Why is that one reserved parking space always empty? Taking an extra donut during mid-morning snack: Trivial matter or criminal offense? If the company is reorganizing again, doesn’t that mean the last reorganization was a total waste of time and money? What does Senior Management really do up there all day? . . . and the big one . . . What is the Meaning of Work? At Zephyr Holdings, no one has ever seen the CEO. The beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else, but does no work. One of the sales reps uses relationship books as sales manuals, and another is on the warpath because somebody stole his donut. In other words, it’s an ordinary big company. Or at least, that’s what everyone thinks. Until fresh-faced employee Jones—too new to understand that you just don’t ask some questions at Zephyr—starts investigating. Soon Jones uncovers the company’s secret: the answer to everything, what Zephyr Holdings really does, and why every manager has a copy of the Omega Management System. It plunges him into a maelstrom of love, loyalty, management, and corporate immorality—and whether he can get out again, now that’s a good question."--Inside jacket.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Doubleday, c2006
Description: 338 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780385514392
Branch Call Number: Barr


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Jul 31, 2013

On the plus side: this book was mentioned during a meeting at work (a meeting that would, in fact, not have felt out of place if it were in this book) and I was able to flip open my iPad, find it available as an eBook at my public library, download it for free, and start reading it on the bus ride home that day. So, public libraries are awesome!

On the negative side: Well, OK, this is not all wholly negative. The BiblioCommons' definition of 2-stars is "It was OK," and this book was just that ... OK.

I'm not usually a fan of the Big Twist or the Big Reveal ending, and so, at first, I was surprised and delighted that the Big Reveal in this book happens (to us and the protagonist, Jones) about 1/4 of the way in. It's a cleaver premise and amusing to anyone who has worked for a large organization with no sense of direction. However, it turns out the "early reveal" - and Jones' immediate (albeit conflicted) complicity in the scheme - was also the book's main problem.

It's probably not a big spoiler to reveal that the corporate setting of Zephyr Holdings is really just a front for a secret experiment in management theory, and all the characters/employees are just pawns. But having that revealed up front causes some narrative problems in that all the subsequent satirical absurdity loses much of its bite. Furthermore, nothing can really top that Big Reveal and so the denouement is rather anticlimactic.

There were hints that the novel was going to turn away from the satirical direction it started with into a more personal character-driven story, perhaps even focusing on how the fundamentally decent and ethical side of Jones could break through and transform the damaged heartlessness of Eve, the faux-receptionist and ruthless experimenter. But it didn't go there. The beginnings of character backstories were abandoned and, in the end, there was no growth, really, for any of the characters.

Again, the book was "OK" - an entertaining short read that could have worked its premise to have more insights and impacts than it ultimately did.

Apr 01, 2012

Mildly amusing story about working for a giant corporation, but not engaging enough to keep me reading. I gave up after the first 50 pages. The donut on the cover is the best part of the book.

Jan 10, 2011

Very funny :D laughed most of the way through. Clever writing.

Nov 09, 2009

Hilarious! Like a novel-ized version of a Dilbert cartoon.

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