NAUGHTY SHORTS by Jesse Lawler

NAUGHTY SHORTS

True Stories of Sex and Bad Judgment at Work
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut collection offers bawdy true stories of workplace misbehavior. 

Lawler draws from a 30-year career in corporate employee relations to share these fact-based vignettes chronicling red-faced embarrassments at work. He believes most “Americans are bound together by three common experiences: working, sex, and intermittently bad judgment.” The 32 tales he shares—some no longer than a page in length—reinforce this opinion and explore themes of the interpersonally inappropriate, the messy office affairs, and the self-sabotaged careers at the “intersection of Bad Choice Boulevard and Sex Drive.” The stories’ titles alone allude to what’s in store for readers (“Nipple Clamps in the Mailroom”; “You Gonna Eat That?”), and much of the subject matter ranges from the innocent office faux pas to the full humiliation of exposed employee fraternization. In the opening tale, a disgruntled, passive-aggressive, 50-something senior buyer is caught on camera licking the car doors of her office nemesis. The next story focuses on a long-standing mailroom supervisor’s alarm at the discovery of a box of sexual accessories sent to the office by a clueless employee. Elsewhere, calling the boss’s boss a dildo has repercussions for a human resources expert, and a wrongful termination lawsuit exposes details of covert polygamy. Lawler’s tenure in human resources for a commercial bakery provided fodder for more scandalous tales. A production worker on the layer cake line faints after relating the intimate details of two co-workers’ public fondling session; a female employee gets an uncomfortable reminder about proper hygiene; and a frisky couple become caught in a walk-in freezer. Sexual innuendos are misinterpreted; calls get recorded; company cellphones harbor compromising photographs; hickeys raise eyebrows; and tempers flare. But overall, the stories amount to good, clean fun even if they are at the expense of employees who sometimes forget they’re at their place of employment. The book’s second half is decidedly a bit racier, with episodes of narcotic misappropriation, porn surfing at work, and trouble with tricky company emails. Of course, the generally provocative nature of the tales as a collection ebbs and flows, with some pieces reading more like dirty jokes than actual events. Still, the entertainment factor is consistent and the laughs should come easily for readers who fancy the awkwardness of workplace weirdness.

A collection full of office disasters, ideal for readers who need a refresher course on the consequences of impropriety.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-7340799-0-6
Page count: 140pp
Publisher: Rockhampton Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020