e
by Matt Beaumont, contemporary (2000)
HarperCollins, £6.99, ISBN 0-00-710068-X


Whatever Matt Beaumont is having when he wrote this deliciously bitchy and hilarious tale of office politics, I want some too. e is a story pieced together from pieces of emails of the staff and CEO of Miller Shanks UK, an advertizing agency, over a period of two weeks.

There's David Crutton, the CEO, with an attitude that makes a barracuda look like Dear Moppet. He has problems. All his emails are sent to his obnoxious rival in Miller Shanks Helsinki, and he wants that "pathetic twat" out of his system NOW.

Then there's the long suffering Rachel Stevenson from Personnel who tries to keep a charming smile when confronted by the high staff turnover of Miller Shanks. But it's not easy with every disgruntled staff and the mad CEO breathing down her throat.

The Head of Client Services, the self important gerbil and bootlicker Daniel Westbrooke is not aware that his junior Harriet Greenbaum is plotting a coup to oust his sorry bum out.

There's also the self-important and totally useless Simon Horne, creative leader if only in his deluded mind, leading Pinki Fallon (new age kook) and three horny junior copyeditors/artists right into disaster.

Don't forget the secretaries that backstab and bitch and whine like witches of cyanide even as they smile and sleep with the bosses. Rounding up the cast is Nigel, the poor loser at Accounting that nobody cares about no matter how chirpy and exciting he tries to be.

As they stumble their way through an ad blitz for a car and a porn cable channel, their crown jewel is a prime contract with Coke. But no one in that place knows the meaning of "teamwork", so it's a mad clawing to see who's on top. The bloodbath and the heads that rolled are fascinating, to say the least.

What's amazing about e is how it accurately captures the nastiness of office politics even as it relies on caricatures to bring out the funnies. The British are cool and jaded, while Americans are self-important pompous donkeys. Accounting folks are nerds and losers, while the creative people are all sex-mad and junkies into all sorts of kinky sex. The CEO is a rabid bulldog, the management is filled with sharks, and oh yeah, the Personnel is useless. What else is new?

While there is no likeable person in this story - Pinki comes close though - everybody is hilarious as he or she drips insincerity on one hand and venom on the other. I wonder how these weirdos can run a company in the first place, but I think of some office I have the misfortune to be stuck in, and shudder.

I can't express how C-R-A-Z-Y this book is. It's a fabulous lough-out-loud-every-line read, a prime example of evil British humor, and eeriely dead on when it comes to office politics. Toss everything - e's the law, and so there.

Rating: 96


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