Today’s book excerpt comes from Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch, a workplace satire novel about a guy working at a fictional dying newspaper called the Daily Business Chronicle.
It’s written by Richard Hine, a Brit and a veteran of the Wall Street Journal.
It’s not badly written, but I had the misfortune–or the fortune, depending on how you look at it–if reading it just after I’d read Then We Came to the End, which is simply the best workplace satire work since Office Space–wickedly funny, with dead-on observations of office ennui, office politics and office humor, and the giddy days of long lunches and stock options leading up to Sept. 11. Then We Came to the End felt real, with genuine characters. Russell Wiley felt contrived, with cheaply sketched characters, way too many jokes about Dilbert-esque office-jargon, and the most far-fetched ending I’ve read in years (podcasts and MySpace save the newspaper industry!).
Nonetheless, an excerpt follows.
The F-train is crowded, but there’s a middle seat no one wants: an orange sliver between two passengers whose ass sizes exceed the MTA space allowance. I wedge myself between them and pull my newspapers from my messenger bag. It’s a small gesture. But whenver I’m surrounded by iPod listeners, Blackberry users, Sudoku addicts and anyone looking to either shake me down or inspire my religious conversion, I immerse myself in a newspaper. Not just to create a barrier between me and my fellow commuters. Not just to fly the flag for the company that employs me. I happen to think a newspaper is a convenient, wireless, handheld device. On a good day it might even tell me something I don’t already know.
I conceal my New York Times inside the first section of the Daily Business Chronicle and start reading. It’s my way of reminding any media planners who might get on a train that the Chronicle still exists, even if its readership among the under-forty crowd is in sharp decline.
The news is all bad.