British journalist Kellaway moves into fiction with a novel featuring the marketing executive she created for her Financial Times column.
Martin Lukes fancies himself an out-of-the-box thinker at his global marketing firm and quite the family man at home. He loves his email, which he uses to boss around his staff, to brag about jobs he has no chance of getting, to flirt with his silly new secretary, to scold his wife for not understanding the scope of his commitments, to connect with the two sons he never sees and, most importantly, to communicate with Pandora. She’s his guru at CoachworX!, where Martin has signed up for the Executive Bronze Life Coaching Program (his company’s finance director wouldn’t approve the platinum one). Her coaching will help him be “better than your very best,” Pandora promises. Despite his personal commitment to become more introspective, and his boasts of being a team player, Martin’s emails—which constitute the novel’s entire text—reveal a man woefully inept at human relations. By the time he launches a steamy affair with “Kinky Pinky,” his young secretary, Martin has cluelessly angered most of his family and coworkers with his empty promises. The one area in which he seems to excel is in making up words for marketing purposes, such as “creovation” (a hybrid of creative and innovation). Martin’s self-important emails are delightfully droll, and the tale becomes all the more entertaining when his angry teenaged son gets hold of Martin’s BlackBerry and proceeds to wreak havoc on his neglectful father’s life.
Enjoyable satire of corporate life’s stupidities and empty language, as well as those who buy into them.