In his debut novel, Arre depicts the machinations of a comical and bizarre pharmaceutical company.
After the Napoleonic chief financial officer of Gift of Drug Inc. (G.O.D.) leaps from his office window during a fire alarm, his literal golden parachute fails, sending the little man crashing down—along with the company’s stock. The ensuing panic forces G.O.D.’s inept leaders to try to save the company—a formidable task, due to a toxic work environment that rewards robbing others of success. Meanwhile, a dying young blogger named Helen publicizes the many G.O.D. missteps that keep her from life-prolonging medications. Rico, a cough-drop popping G.O.D. employee and musician, falls for Helen after hand-delivering some meds to her. Arre’s debut is closer in tone to Douglas Adams than Franz Kafka, favoring madcap comedy and scatological humor. The book does have some rough edges: Its judgmental tone skirts cliché at times, and it occasionally leans a bit too hard on stereotypes. However, the novel’s many well-drawn characters highlight the absurd pettiness of its business world—particularly the chief operating officer Cuddy, a squealing, abusive pig-man; the appearance-obsessed VP of sales Mary; and their boss, Doug, a Magic 8-Ball–wielding CEO. The prose is brisk and sharp, often shocking the reader with a bizarre event then showing the ways that corporate idiocy led to that result. Despite the humor, however, the book also points out the horror as the pharmaceutical company plays games with people’s health.
A timely, if unpolished, comic novel with plenty of wit.