Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 2011
Genre Fiction
Origin US
Publisher New Directions
ISBN-10 0811219526
ISBN-13 978-0811219525
My Copy library copy
First Read October 24, 2016

Lightning Rods

This follow up from Helen DeWitt (author of one of my faves, The Last Samurai) is so different in tone and style that I tried twice to read it - but couldn't get thru it. The third time is a charm, I guess. It's billed sometimes as a 'sex comedy', although it's really more like a farce which includes really un-titillating, vaguely unsettling discussions of sex. The target here isn't sex or a culture of sex, but rather the Smarmy CEO Memoir or Business Self Help book - it's written as a retrospective by a successful businessperson who installed secret prostitutes in office restrooms as a way to cut down on sexual harassment claims in the modern office. I know.

The writing style - folksy business speak - is incredibly spot on, which makes it so painful to read. DeWitt skewers this so mercilessly and consistently, that the jokes are buried veerrrry deeply, and covered in a gooey layer of smarm and self-satisfaction.

It's incredibly different than Last Samurai, and I certainly wouldn't ever recommend it or read it again. DeWitt is really so masterful and precise with her language; I wish she'd spent that power on something less bitter.

Noted on November 13, 2016

If you’re a salesman, you have to deal with yourself the way you are. Not how you’d like to be. If you don’t have what it takes, you can waste a lot of time asking yourself “How can I get what it takes?” The question you should be asking yourself is, “Is there something else that takes what I have to offer?” Because if there’s something you can succeed at, just the way you are, you won’t have to waste a lot of time trying to change yourself. Which you’re never going to be able to do, anyway.

Quoted on November 13, 2016

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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