THE BOSS by Goffredo Parise


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Satire should be acid; it shouldn't shuffle between the fantastic and semi-realistic; it shouldn't wander off in verbose ironies. Unfortunately this Italian satire of modern business and ""Big Brotherism"" is lukewarm and ambiguous, although it exposes enough nasty assumptions. The protagonist, a country boy of twenty, enters a city ""commercial firm"" (products and activity unknown) to be the right-hand man to Dottor Max, a boss obsessed with morality (aspects of which are naturally found to be the immorality of power). The boy's company friends discuss vague illnesses; Dottor Max marries Minnie who fills the company library with comic books; Lothar, handyman of Dottor Max, gives the boy vitamin injections, after which he contemplates murdering the boss. But when he is gradually demoted for refusing to marry a mongoloid ""ward"" of the boss's mother, he gives up and gives in, thus accepting reality, a place in the firm, a refrigerator, a car... The silly things that go on haphazardly simply do not conjure up the horror of the satiric message nor even sympathy for the hapless victim, particularly since he sincerely tries to understand them.

Publisher: Knopf