The Scheme for Full Employment

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9780007151325: The Scheme for Full Employment

A wonderfully original fable which will appeal to readers of all ages, from 'a British writer to be treasured' (Independent on Sunday)Of course, if this had been any other country The Scheme would still be going today. In any other country it would have been regarded as a national treasure. Planned to the finest detail by people of vision, The Scheme was watertight, and could not possibly go wrong. Except in this country. 'Life on The Scheme is like being in a great big feather bed. You've got your full uniform provided, winter and summer, subsidized cups of tea and sandwiches, the opportunity for a quiet doze in a lay-by while you wait to clock off, and a generous weekly wage. And all you've got to do is turn up for work every day! But it could all so easily come to an end. Already, workers are beginning to divide into opposing camps, and a new superintendent has arrived, intent on sending The Scheme the way of 'all those other failed social experiments, like public transport, school dinners and municipal orchestras'. Might the chill winds of change spell an end to our glorious summer?

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Review:

A self-perpetuating means of creating employment provides an allegory for welfare programs and a light meditation on the working class in Magnus Mills's novel The Scheme for Full Employment. Making appointed rounds in UniVans to pick up boxes (containing, what else, UniVan parts), our unnamed protagonist stays the course (mostly, except when he couriers a birthday cake and charts unknown--and unauthorized--territory) while labor unrest stirs between those who champion the eight-hour day and those who want to cut corners and slip out of work early. It is refreshing to see a plot-driven novel come along that is devoid of self-absorbed narration, but the book bounces along on one note; it lacks the depth necessary to be a truly evocative commentary.

Mills's prose is sufficient and the story is well paced. As for the glory of "The Scheme," Mills tells us, "What could be nicer than an excursion in a UniVan on a bright spring morning?... Every so often, when I caught sight of my vehicle reflected in some huge glass-fronted office building, it seemed there could be no better way to earn a living." For a light-hearted, amusing read, The Scheme for Full Employment is worth a quick spin. --Michael Ferch

About the Author:

magnus mills's work has been translated into no less than twenty languages. He is the author of a book of short stories, Only When the Sun Shines Brightly, as well as three novels: Three to See the King, All Quiet on the Orient Express and The Restraint of Beasts, a novel which won the McKitterick Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread First Novel Award.

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Mills, Magnus
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. The Scheme is the envy of the world, the greatest undertaking ever conceived. But it could so easily go the way of all those other failed social experiments, like public transport, school dinners and municipal orchestras. Bookseller Inventory # 017705

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