A management consultant jousts with the loonier aspects of American capitalism in Stazyk’s canny debut satire of the corporate world.
After Dave Locke is booted from the presidency of a technology corporation following a merger, he’s relieved to land a partnership at tony Quantum Consulting. Unfortunately, this avowed bastion of best business practices turns out to be filled with nincompoops. The partners are obsessed with status and extreme-sports exploits; the management committee signs off on Dave’s plans if he sprinkles them with the buzz phrase “world-class”; and clients are given the hard sell on outsourcing and layoffs, no matter what the long-term costs. (Alas, their clients are only too happy to pillage their own firms; one CEO wants to relocate his conglomerate to Panama for tax purposes.) As a deep recession takes hold, Dave picks his way through a minefield of office politics and callous management theories. Meanwhile, his sons—Alex, a would-be actor who doesn’t want to be defined by his career, and Jim, a workaholic investment banker—debate the spiritual pitfalls of capitalism. Stazyk’s cutting, funny tale furnishes plenty of Dilbert-esque office gags and colorful characters, including an Indian swami who turns his spiritual aura into a publicly traded corporation. The novel’s greatest creation may be Jim’s girlfriend, Jennifer, a frenzied Wall Streeter whose fussbudget consumerism reflects her hollow soul. Stazyk has written a novel that treats business as an important and absorbing subject; the author knows the terrain well and his naturalistic prose and dialogue has a nuanced subtlety that rings true. When Dave deploys his infighting skills against boardroom boobs and tyrants, his conviction that business can be both profitable and ethical starts to seem like a believable bottom line.
An entertaining, covertly insightful satire.