Domestic Violets – Matthew Norman – 3/10 (DNF)

“When Lyle is gone and I’ve hung up the phone, I’m faced with the grim prospect of having do my job and write some more corporate propaganda.”

Tom Violet, 35, married to the beautiful and compassionate Anna and father of the adorable Allie, is a copywriter who is singularly uninspired by his job. To make matters worse, his adulterous, pot-smoking father has just won the Pulitzer Prize. So Tom’s debut novel, slaved over in secret for years, looks like a non-starter. Oh, and he’s struggling in bed, too.

This is a bizarre mix of Then We Came To The End (to which I gave 10/10) and William Walker’s First Year of Marriage: A Horror Story (2/10). Unfortunately, Domestic Violets had one of my least favourite types of protagonist: male, perfect family life, cynical, good at his job but apathetic and considers it beneath him, cringingly self-conscious, adulterous – in his mind or in actuality, makes no difference to me.

The writing is quite good:

“He’s one of those aged pot smokers who kept at it while everyone else gave it up and got jobs and started quietly voting Republican.”

“Her eyes are big and she’s jittery from all the excitement, like she’s been sneaking handfuls of coffee beans since dinner, and I wish it was legal to fasten children to their beds.”

“It’s like someone called a casting agency and requested an actor to play the part someone to annoy me.”

“We hold each other’s eyes for a moment as he tries to crush my windpipe with his mind.”

But I wasted 3 hours on William Walker and wasn’t going to make the same mistake with this one.

One for fans of Nick Hornby.

Reviews from other bloggers: BermudaOnion; A Book Club Girl show featuring Matthew Norman; That’s What She Read; Booking Mama; Teresa’s Reading Corner; Beth Fish Reads; Like Fire; S. Krishna’s Books; Devourer of Books; Leeswammes

Additional info:
Kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review, via NetGalley.
Publisher: HarperPerennial, paperback, 368 pages.
Order this from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.
Fluff, Thriller

Paranoia – Joseph Finder – 8/10

I did not see that ending coming at all. Hence 8 points.

Adam is hanging onto his job by his fingernails after throwing a wild retirement party for a loading dock worker and expensing it all neatly through the company IT. His punishment is to be placed as a mole in a rival company, feeding misinformation from his true employer to the victim, and feeding insider information back the other way. Meanwhile, he tries to gather enough documentation on his mole-ish activities such that the FBI will pluck him from his dilemma if he can hand over his account.

I’ve made the plot sound extraordinarily convoluted, but it’s not really. It is very clear that Adam is in a sticky situation of his own making, but that his desire not to go to prison for fraud has landed him in something much deeper. I’m a little dubious about how little sleep he can survive with, but apart from that the character and his actions are well constructed – the difficulties with his father give sharp and necessary relief to the “daily grind” of corporate greed and subterfuge.

I have to say, I rather enjoyed the churlish, unpleasant chief financial officer – he was exactly what gives us accountants a bad name, and yet entirely credible and not abhorrent. Other well-developed characters include Jock Goddard, the boss at the new company and the “mole activities” consultant Judith. Antwoine, the enormous black male nurse hired by Adam to care for his aged father, provides a bit of comic relief too.

Additional info:
Personal copy – part of a large box purchase.
Publisher: Orion, hardback, 424pages.
Order this from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.
Current Affairs

Then We Came to the End – Joshua Ferris – 10/10

Then We Came To The Endis written for everyone who has ever calculated the psychological effect of taking lunch an hour later on Fridays, so that the end of the week is that much closer upon returning from lunch. For those who have established countdowns in hours until they have reached the number of hours necessary for a qualification/promotion/escape. For those who have put sticky tape over the trackball of a colleague’s old-fashioned computer mouse in order to provide the office with entertainment for a few minutes.

Joshua Ferris encapsulates the tedium of daily life in a faceless, soulless corporation, rivalry with colleagues, the pervading fear when lay-offs are rumoured, loyalty born of affection to a terrifying boss and the importance of the right kind of tea. His office workers are obsessive, arrogant, insane, depressive, tortured by tragedy, incompetent, orthographically challenged and aloof. There is no plot – the characters render it unnecessary.

My only criticism is that it has not aged well – the lay-offs are in late 2001, after 9/11 and the dotcom bust, but seem anachronistic given the financial chaos in 2008-09.

Reviews by other bloggers: Of Books and Bicycles