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This first novel, a series of scenes from corporate life, is an anti-corporation satire, with an ax to grind but not much of a story to tell. Doodah is gobbledygook: the language of the corporation. One of its unwilling practitioners is the nameless lead/narrator, who writes PR speeches for an automobile company and is now experiencing, in addition to all the usual fears of corporate man, disorienting visions: a large dog on his chair, a flight of pigeons through the executive suite. On a business trip to California, an executive seduces him in her office, but seconds later is all business again. The only consolation comes not from his analyst, the gluttonous Dr. Mirsch, but rather from Conrad, his one company friend, who tells him ""Ninety-nine percent of paranoia is justified."" Eventually he is forced to spend two weeks in Room 111, the Troubled Employee Department, where he receives (and inflicts) physical pain during the day and attends ""sociability dinners"" at night (the talk is of football and driveway resurfacing). Despite a brief, unsuccessful escape, he is judged such a success in his reconstituted form that he is jumped up the ladder to Vice-President and given the job of showcasing the techniques of Room 111 (now dubbed the Exec-Excel Program). The enthusiastic media response earns him a million-dollar bonus. His transformation into Ideal Corporate Man is complete when he accomplishes his final challenge: killing old buddy Conrad in the parking lot. Much of Doodah reads like an eloquent but solipsistic lament; it lacks the density of an inhabited fictional world. There are clever cameos here, but no characters; the dimly realized narrator's ordeals seem mere shadow-play, and his eventual sell-out the result of authorial whim.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1985
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin