E-MAILS FROM THE EDGE by Lynne Everatt (Insomniac), 224 pages, $21.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's hard enough to be interested in my own e-mail in-box, let alone somebody else's. E-Mails From The Edge is a novel composed entirely of a one-sided e-mail correspondence, and the person writing them, while very witty at times, has only one topic - corporate office politics.
Oddly, it's not as boring as it sounds, or as the bland cover design suggests.
Constance Beaman, MBA, is the kind of woman you might see on the subway reading a self-help book, listening to Norah Jones on her iPod, going to the gym five nights a week. But she's going kind of nutty, and that's what makes her a little bit more interesting than your average corporate Jane.
Everatt's got a sharp eye for describing the excruciatingly ridiculous and morally bankrupt world of global capitalism and the strange little ants lying their way to the top, only to be laid off, merged or micro-managed into an early grave.
The main problem with E-Mails From The Edge is the structure it's frustrating to read letters addressing one person who never answers back.
As part of a mentoring initiative, Constance is paired with a higher-up female executive who's supposed to school her on how to move up from middle management. Trouble is, halfway through the novel, her mentor is fired. Why does she continue this relationship by e-mail when she doesn't have to?
Constance begins the novel as an eager young upstart, dreaming of the perfect office chair, computer and carpet fibre that would signal her success. When she realizes the arbitrariness of the corporate world, she has a little fun trying to take it down, becoming far more likeable in the process.
While the novel builds slowly and lags in the middle, if you keep with it, the final third is hilariously insightful.