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 If the four SNAGs (sensitive New Age guys) responsible for this pretentious bosh had not included a closing pitch for their Atlanta-based consultancy, many readers might conclude they were lampooning the caring/sharing subgenre of management guides. In deadly earnest fashion, unfortunately, Bracey and his three colleagues offer sanctimonious precepts through a set-piece narrative that logs a year in the fictive life of a senior corporate executive unblushingly christened Harry Hartwell. Hard- driving Harry (known to subordinates as the ``abominable no man'') runs a domestic oil refinery in notably autocratic fashion for Ramoco, a multinational energy enterprise. During a near-death experience following (surprise!) a heart attack, however, Harry converses with a disembodied voice who answers to the name of Selena, giving himself a second chance at life--if he can change his ways. With the patience of a saint, the muselike creature tutors her recalcitrant pupil in the fine art of (yes, folks) managing from the heart. By the numbers, the hitherto impatient patient's do-or-die recovery regimen consists mainly of abiding by five responsive principles (whose initial letters spell out heart). The words Harry chooses to live by are: ``Hear and Understand Me. Even if you disagree, please don't make me wrong. Acknowledge the greatness within me. Remember to look for my loving intentions. Tell me the truth with compassion.'' At the happy ending of this saccharine parable, Harry has become a prince of a fellow--an inspiration to employees; a kinder, gentler family member; and a man of respect to his peers as well as superiors. Awesomely smug claptrap whose teachings amount to little more than trendy restatements of the golden rule.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1991
ISBN: 0-385-30425-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991