It is a truly suffocating experience, spending hours in a single large room, a windowless open space, covered by cubicles. It’s enough to make a person insane or a poet. A sadist or a comic. It’s the single most dominant setting of modern adult life and professional development. It traps people, blocks them from creativity, and places them in an adult holding cell until age or health replaces them.
It has become one of the great weaknesses of the global workplace, and it is equal parts tragic and unintentionally hysterical. Cubicles Anonymous by Brett Pahler is a compelling personal appraisal of the workplace, the universal need to make a living, and the steady pull towards a more fulfilling place in the world.
At times this feels like a modern-day revisit to the literary world of the 1900s. When society was in dire need of revision or at least a mild awakening, with ordinary lives playing out over a humorously disconnected world that is being held together with duct tape. With protagonists that are more relatable than noteworthy. Where the villains’ are not some black hat-wearing man with over-the-top plots, but rather a series of public ills that are difficult to define. A story about a single, careful, and surprisingly engaging person against an unempathetic world.
The book rushes past the reader in a flurry of dynamic characters and scenarios told in a charming muted fashion. It’s the best kind of humor where the characters aren’t in on the joke and the reader is given subtle hints from the author, almost giving them permission to laugh at the spectacle. Told in an active first person, with a candid openness, the reader can’t help but be taken along the author’s journey. There is a delightful oddness about many of the characters, they feel so familiar, like people who have populated your life. Yet, they also seem so refreshingly original. As if the reader is meeting the most extreme or muted versions of the people around them.
The author guides readers through his life and career with visual artistry and an inimitable tone. Sometimes it feels like a scrapbook of sorts, filled with all the ins and outs of the main character’s life sprinkled with his sharp thoughts. Other times it has the feeling of a behind-the-scenes breakdown of the modern workplace and the obstacles many have to find their place. The book is a great addition to any library that was clearly a labor of love from its author.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Page Count||217 pages|
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