The narrator of this novel is a man broken on the beige wheel of office life, the grinding routine and endless buff envelopes. One particular day he scrutinizes the arcana of his environment like an urban anthropologist, looking for spiritual purpose, and finding only yuccas and polystyrene cups.
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"Work is a blessing", says the anonymous narrator of Michael Bracewell's third novel Perfect Tense, although it's hard to see why. Crammed into commuter trains, shackled to a world of plexi-glass office prints and Ladderex shelving units, Bracewell's character is a man perpetually in the career hinterland. He spends his days--and specifically the day over which the novel's action takes place--in a reverie of shame and regret, a self-styled urban anthropologist, wandering the city in his lunch hour, trying to account for the manifold perversities of the working life. What are glamorous Kate and Simon Grinch up to on the roof of the building? Whatever became of Fat Val or Les's legendary ties, and why do so many young people phrase every sentence as a question?
Readers expecting a rollicking read might be surprised by the lack of narrative in this novel, because--as in real office life--precious little happens. But shining like jewels amid the grey carpeting and the inspirational coffee-mug slogans, are Bracewell's observations. Sharp, poignant and funny, this novel lends a wholly fresh perspective to an almost universal experience. The Marks and Spencer sandwich queue, the bleak Fitzrovia pubs where office romances begin and end, the horrors of the leaving-do are all treated to Bracewell's acerbic analysis, rendered almost, but never quite meaningful. Anyone in danger of taking work seriously needs to read this book straightaway. But don't let the boss catch you. --Matthew BaylisReview:
"The alienation of the modern wage-slave has seldom been described so precisely, eloquently and entertainingly." -- David Lodge
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Book Description Vintage, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099440652