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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book review: Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch with GIVEAWAY

Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch is a good read for anyone in the trenches of corporate America. Or anyone, like me, who is a refugee from corporate America.

Author Richard Hine comes from the world of old media. As a former VP of Marketing at the Wall Street Journal, Hine is able to convey artfully and amusingly the ridiculousness, the insanity and inanity that occurs daily in mid- to upper- level offices everywhere. It's chick-lit with a male protagonist, a witty and clever read that made me relive some of the wackier moments I spent in academia (perhaps the only sector more dysfunctional than corporations).

In the novel, Russell Wiley is a 38 year old mid-level manager who is befuddled both at home and at work. Russell has climbed the ladder by virtue of his connections to somewhat smarmy movers and shakers (who, like the Wizard of Oz, turn out to be just frightened posers).

Russell's wife, Sam, has become more and more distant, spending his hard earned money on things like an expensive turd-brown footstool. Weeks go by without Russell getting any affection from Sam, because of things like the No Sweat Clause:
It's the Catch-22 you always use. You don't want sex when you're already sweaty. And you especially don't want sex when you're not sweaty, in case it makes you sweaty.
Russell's publishing company has been bought by a conglomerate, and nothing is stable. To help put the company on firmer footing, a consultant is hired who knows less than the staff but who is presumed to be a savior, and projects are created with acronyms like WICTY (wish I could tell you) , D-SAW (don't say a word) and YANA (you are not authorized), all designed to impress with surface cleverness rather than actually solve a problem.

Much like the people in Russell's office. Those who excel are the ones who are best at getting others to do the work they take credit for. Those who actually work are underappreciated and the first on the chopping block with looming budget cuts.

Readership for Russell's business publication is disappearing. How can old media find relevance and audience in the presence of new technologies? And the larger question, posed in the book, is the Internet killing print?

Richard Hine came to publishing in a non-traditional way. He left the Wall Street Journal to pursue a career as a writer. And though he found an agent, finding a publisher proved more elusive. In 2009 he entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was a semi-finalist. His book was then published by AmazonEncore and is being marketing via new media channels.

And this is why the publisher sent me a book to review on this blog.

In the novel, Russell fat-fingers a budget spreadsheet that throws the publication into chaos. Should he feign ignorance? Fess up? Blame an underling? Blame an overlord?

Much is at stake, both in Russell's personal and professional life. Good thing Russell has a well-developed alter-ego, but too bad that identity is under wraps.

Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch kept me interested over its 300 pages. And despite the traumatic flashbacks to my own time in the trenches, I am glad I read this book. Amazon reviews average 4 stars.

The publisher is providing a giveaway copy to a randomly selected commenter. To enter, leave a comment below telling something wacky that happened at work, by February 1. will select the winner on February 2. Please make sure I am able to reach you. Good luck!

Thanks for your wacky work stories! selected RobinJP for the giveaway book. Congrats to Robin, and thanks to all of you!
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4 chiming in:

Anonymous said...

Wackiest thing that comes to mind first is when I was a cashier ages ago and we had to call the police on a drunk after I refused to sell him beer.

Kristin said...

That sounds like such a cool book. The only wacky thing I can think of was perpetuated by me. I worked as a nanny ages ago. We were in a rainy period and the kids and I were getting severe cabin fever. So, I stripped the kids down to their underwear, covered the kitchen floor with paper, and let them finger paint each other. It was so much fun!

areyoukiddingme said...

Hmmm...wacky things at work...there was the time I was served with contempt of court papers a few days before I was leaving the country on vacation. That was a little wacky. And my coworkers had a fantastic time picturing me in the orange jumpsuit of our county jail...

It was a slight report was sent to the judge and he didn't pass it on to the defense attorney. The defense attorney asked for the contempt of court, and the same judge signed the order. It was fortunately settled while I was on vacation.

RobinJP said...

A few years ago, I worked for a newspaper where management was looking for creative ways to trim expenses.

One day they announced an "exciting opportunity" for all the staff. We were all going to be given the chance to apply for new jobs... everyone. We were handed a catalog with the titles and descriptions of all the jobs in what had formerly been called "the newsroom." It was now going to be called an Information Center. Every job was listed, even the top editor's job ... oh, except some positions that seemed to have disappeared. We were all encouraged to apply for three opportunities.

I actually took them literally and created an opportunity for myself. I applied for 3 jobs I really wanted and pitched the heck out of myself. Others didn't take it quite as well. It was truly a way to trim staff, but the presentation came across as a little whacky to all involved.

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