Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back from Vacation, with an E-pisotlary delight of a novel

It turned out that my choices for vacation books were pretty decent! The first one, which I finished on the plane ride down, is Matt Beaumont's E. I checked it out because I'm interested in the internet in literature. It's hard to believe the book is almost ten years old, as it still feels current. The book is set in an ad agency in London and has our protagonists staggering to work nursing hangovers on the first day of the new millenium. Things at the agency are generally in a state of general chaos threatening total disaster, and the beginning of the new millenium is no exception. One of their accounts hangs in the balance as two creative teams duke out a strategy. Another is all aflutter with activity as they prepare for a commercial shoot on location in Mauritius. But everyone's primary preoccupation is winning the mother of all accounts: Coca-Cola.

The entire story is told through emails, and the devices have only become more familiar as time wears on: the passive-aggressive emoticons ("Hope you don't mind staying through until 9 tonight to work off that long lunch :)"), the pretentious signature lines, the outbursts of playfulness in the subject line, and the "bcc" feature for all your backstabbing needs.

Beaumont draws vivid, if familiar, characters through mere emails. There's the tempermental CEO; the anal-retentive secretary, the ditzy secretary, and the slutty secretary; the horny young men who can most often be found hiding out at a nearby bar, if not in an elevator between floors with the Slutty Secretary; the Closeted Married Creative guy; the nerd; the hippie; the naive, starry-eyed recent grad, etc. I'd recommend this book as an excellent vacation read, especially since the terse emails provide an average of three logical stopping places per page. It's very enjoyable and funny, but also a decent picture of what corporate e-life is like.

No comments: