Confessions from a Dark Wood

Eric Raymond, Author
Eric Raymond. Sator (satorpress.com), $15 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-0-9832437-1-7
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Nick Bray, the hapless former employee of a pornography company, finds fortune as a “new media” consultant in Raymond’s dark take on the ad agency world. After the death of his father, Nick finds himself catapulted from his one-burrito-a-day meal plan and decrepit share house in an “up-and-coming” San Francisco neighborhood to the 1% lifestyle of a corporate executive. Pontius J. LaBar is the portly and paranoid CEO of LaBar Partners Limited, a company that seduces its employees with incomprehensible business jargon and extravagance (black AmEx cards, luxury apartments, roof decks) meant to arm them for the “trend spotting expeditions” they were supposed to undertake at all hours of the day. He is also a former protégé of Nick’s late father, and Nick finds himself haunted by both men throughout the novel, as he navigates the perils of a constantly blinking BlackBerry, falling in love with a would-be suicide bomber, and near-constant domestic air travel. Sometimes inconsistent and slow, Raymond’s debut nonetheless triumphs at tapping into the despairing cynicism that is the domain of disgruntled employees. This is a soothing balm for anyone who has ever felt enslaved by an office e-mail account, or fantasized about a boss being attacked by a large orangutan at a company picnic. (Jan.)
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