Doubleday, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
he satire on corporate life is as delicious as the mystery of the missing donut that threads through Max Barry's plot.
takes readers on a journey of discovery along with Stephen Jones, an idealistic new hire (well, actually he's been taken on in the guise of
) in Training Sales at Zephyr Holdings.
hat does this generic company do? No-one knows, though departments seem to feed off each other like competing tribes of cannibals. Jones, seen immediately by his peers as '
', makes it his mission to find out, and the reader learns along with him. Along the way, he falls in and out of lust with the uber-glamorous Eve Jantiss, who's much, much more than the company receptionist her nameplate declares - '
She has lips like big sofa cushions, the kind of ancestry that probably includes nationalities Jones has never heard of, and liquid brown eyes that say: Sex? Why, what an intriguing idea.
ll kinds of hilarious repercussions ripple out from the donut theft, as well as from Jones' search for truth, justice, and humanity in an organization that rationalizes their absence with well-honed
. (Barry makes clear he has this lingo down cold in comments like, '
It's essential that we strip out the fat, focus on our core competencies, and tighten our belts. If we do this, and stick to our guns, I'm confident we can avoid significant retrenchments.
') Changes begin with loss of the company network - employees notice that '
discussions that previously required three days and six e-mails can, with phones, be settled in minutes
') and end in revolt.
hough he doesn't give them much depth, Barry cuts to the chase in portraying his characters, as in this glorious description of a sales rep: '
If Elizabeth's brain, was a person, it would have scars, tattoos, and be missing one eye.
' In this portrayal of an environment in which
, he takes aim at corporate lack of ethics and inhumanity, and blasts them to smithereens, setting the people free. If you've ever worked in a corporate environment, are planning to, or find their shenanigans entertaining,
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