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Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch [Paperback]

Richard Hine
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 12 2010
Russell Wiley is in deep trouble. A media executive for the failing Daily Business Chronicle, his career is teetering on the brink of collapse, and his sexless marriage is fast approaching its expiration date. With his professional and personal lives floundering, it’s no wonder Russell is distracted, unhappy, and losing faith in himself. Making matters worse are his scheming boss, a hot-shot new consultant determined to see Russell ousted, and the beguiling colleague whose mere presence has a disconcerting effect on Russell’s starved libido. Disaster seems imminent…and that’s before he makes a careless mistake that could cost the paper millions. Russell realizes he must take drastic action if he is going to salvage his career, his love life, and what little remains of his self-respect. Sardonic, edgy, and true to life, this gripping novel offers an insider’s view into a newspaper's inner sanctum and the people who oil the wheels of the "old media" machine.

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From Amazon

Book Description: Russell Wiley is in deep trouble. A media executive for the failing Daily Business Chronicle, his career is teetering on the brink of collapse, and his sexless marriage is fast approaching its expiration date. With his professional and personal lives floundering, it’s no wonder Russell is distracted, unhappy, and losing faith in himself. Making matters worse are his scheming boss, a hot-shot new consultant determined to see Russell ousted, and the beguiling colleague whose mere presence has a disconcerting effect on Russell’s starved libido. Disaster seems imminent…and that’s before he makes a careless mistake that could cost the paper millions. Russell realizes he must take drastic action if he is going to salvage his career, his love life, and what little remains of his self-respect. Sardonic, edgy, and true to life, this gripping novel offers an insider’s view into a newspaper's inner sanctum and the people who oil the wheels of the "old media" machine.

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Richard Hine

Question: Why did you write this book?

Richard Hine: I wanted to write a novel that captured the insecurity and befuddlement of life in the media business in recent years. Having worked in media and advertising for 20-plus years, it’s a world I know extremely well. At the same time, I wanted to tell a story that would connect on a broader level with readers who can relate to the idiocies of the corporate world and the challenges of modern relationships. Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch is set at a business newspaper, but it deals with themes and personal issues to which many readers can relate.

Question: How true a picture is this of the realities of the media business?

Richard Hine: I’ve spent most of my working life at Adweek, Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal. So in terms of the pressures, passions and politics you see inside traditional media companies, it’s very true. In addition, the novel also gives readers a window into a certain--I think important--moment in the history of media. It’s the moment when old media companies really started losing both their hold on their audiences and control of their business future. Setting the novel in the present tense in the recent past also allows for a little humor in those areas where today’s reader knows more than the characters about how things turn out for brands like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, as well as for the real-world newspaper and magazine brands that are mentioned, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today.

Question: What are the book’s big themes and issues?

Richard Hine: One of the central questions the book asks is: "Is the internet changing my life for better or for worse?" In Russell Wiley’s work life at the Daily Business Chronicle, the internet and all the new competition it creates is causing havoc. As Russell says at one point: "The internet is killing us. But nobody has a plan to do anything about it." Meanwhile, the internet is also transforming the way most individuals interact and connect--or in some cases re-connect--with others. Early on in the book, Russell’s wife subscribes to Classmates.com, which gives her a direct line back to the people she knew at a much simpler, less tense time in her life.

Another question the book asks is: "If someone has fallen out of love with you, what hope do you have of winning that love back?" At work, Russell’s challenge is to make newspapers seem sexy again to advertisers who have become enamored with new online opportunities. At home, the challenge is to compete against his wife’s perhaps idealized memory of a former sweetheart.

Equally important, the book also asks: "When all hope seems lost, do you roll over and accept defeat or summon up your resources and give it one last shot?" We live in challenging times and many people work in troubled industries. That can either lead to frustration and helplessness or it can spark new forms of creativity and invention. And the internet comes into play there, too.

Question: To whom do you think this novel will appeal most?

Richard Hine: Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch is for anyone who appreciates the absurdities of corporate life and the challenges of modern relationships. I’m a big fan of Nick Hornby and also of The Office. I’d be delighted if readers and viewers who enjoy such things would give my book a look.


About the Author

London-born Richard Hine began his career as an advertising copywriter. After moving to New York at the age of 24, he held creative and marketing positions at Adweek, Time magazine, where he became publisher of Time’s Latin America edition, and The Wall Street Journal, where he was the marketing vice president responsible for the launch of the Journal's Weekend Edition. Since 2006, Hine has worked as a marketing and media consultant, ghostwriter, and novelist.  His fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications, including London Magazine and Brooklyn Review. He lives in New York City with the novelist Amanda Filipacchi.


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read Dec 21 2011
By Lydia - Novel Escapes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch is full of office politics, procrastination, passing the buck, workplace monotony, and keeping the status quo, and didn't just revolve around his office, but Russell's life at home where his wife is growing more distant. This novel was easy to read, frequently funny and I really enjoyed everything from Russell's character to the story.

Hine's character creation from a few simple scenes was fantastic. The empathy I felt for Russell from the very first scene stayed with me throughout the novel. I could relate to his being stuck and not moving forward and rooted for him to figure things out. His inability to take action had me wanting to shake him at times though and I had hoped he would figure out a few things on his own, rather than just reacting to what was thrown at him.

The end wasn't predictable in certain aspects and had me smiling as did much of the novels with Russell's wry observations of his situation. I've only been a minion in an office and never in management, but still enjoyed this book. It was interesting to have an inside view of how management can bumble things up and go with the safe route and I think anyone who has been stuck in an office will be able to relate to this novel.

Unfortunately I had a difficult time keeping track of Russell's co-workers. They moved in and out and at times I struggled to recall who they were when they reappeared. I had also hoped Russell would help his employee, Angela, more but think this was part of his character in that he wasn't entirely comfortable with the situation, and even with himself enough to do more to assist her. But I still found it disappointing it wasn't addressed further.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  101 reviews
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fans of "The Office or "Office Space" will love this! Aug. 18 2010
By K Sprite - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Not a page went by where I wasn't smiling, or in many cases laughing out loud. It's a character driven book for sure, so don't expect any massive plot turns, though the ending I found to be totally delicious. The delight was being inside the main character's head and all of the hilarious observations he made about his coworkers, his wife and his friends. The author really has an eye and ear for nuances (just like the show "The Office") that makes it really fun. If you have spent any time in offices dealing with petty politics and having to deal with your co-workers neuroses, it's so relatable and so funny you will savor the observations.

The book isn't nearly as cynical as I had anticipated, being set in a New York newspaper company. The main character is a likable, good guy, and the ending is a celebration of personal creativity. I thought it was great and would definitely recommend it to friends.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny fictional memoir about middle management America Aug. 11 2010
By audrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Russell Wiley, a whining snarky rundown middle manager, is facing the end of his marriage and job insecurities as he enters middle age. While the situation may be unimaginative, the voice was immediately entertaining and the protagonist finally won me over by page 170. The author is a good writer and I laughed out loud more than a few times; the corporate -speak rings true, and our hero is an intelligent guy in a sea of crazy. The end is unpredictable, if a bit too tidy, and caps off a nice read. Enjoyable.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaders are like Unicorns ... Aug. 5 2010
By Steffan Piper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
As I quickly got sucked into this tale of woe, I had to stop myself several times and mentally think back and unscramble some of the references made and connect them to their real-life events. From Sam Zell to dead hikers in Oregon, my brain worked overtime to nail-down the news cycle of which this emanated. It's hard, to impossible, to not find yourself doing this as author Richard Hine does this throughout the book; not because it's cute, or an implement of his style, but because this is the business that he's writing about. Newspapers, newspaper men, journalism, corporate confinement, well-structured bureaucratic greed and career-breaking gamesmanship that has `desperation' written all over the faces of all the players, but one. Russell Wiley does his best throughout to hold a poker-face from power lunches where he gives nothing away to office interruptions where he coddles a few employees instead of saying: `You're Fired'. It's a tightrope for sure.

Russell Wiley is the quiet and calculated monitor caught up in a soul-crushing existence and his story has the ring of a Kitty Kelly tell-all biography, but this one covers the newsroom and not just a person. The sad truth of Russell Wiley though, is that he does exist -- and is the current profile of so many thirty / fourty something's caught too far gone in a business that's about to slip over a perimeter and disappear for good, taking all hands with them. The real-life edge and details make a person think about the message as much as the story.

Hine is definitely not the first person to tell us that the publishing world `has heard the chimes at midnight', but has done so in a very captivating but derisive manner. I couldn't help but catch glimpses of Bret Easton Ellis's `American Psycho' as I read this, but this is the book Mr. Ellis would've written if he was still serious about writing and not just dumping his trash on us.

Russell Wiley is the aged yuppie that has settled down and found his back against the wall and surrounded by hungry up-starts and buffoons rather than the sharks of yesteryear. He has become the larger, slow moving ageing shark in a tank full of docile and self-obsessed lesser life forms.

The action and pace of this book is the atmosphere, the reality and the true to life commentary like many other great novels of this type. This is not a whodunit, or a crime-scene investigation, so don't expect that.

Having recently re-read Atlas Shrugged, I couldn't help but see parallels with the story as Russell Wiley travels some of the same ground as the beloved Dagny Taggart. This is the search for self as well as a safe way out the door.

I look forward to a follow-up novel from Mr. Hine - and I don't say that about many writers these days.

...
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Narrative Voice; Light Characters Sept. 21 2010
By Mark Stevens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
There's an interesting first-person narrative voice crackling through "Russell Wiley Is Out To Lunch." Richard Hine infuses Russell with a smart, keen-eyed and generally cynical view of office politics in the world of big New York publishing. There seems to be a lot at stake. Companies, as Hine makes clear for us, are under enormous pressure to "find big ideas to reinvigorate their business." Russell is both trying to survive his own corporation's job-shedding phase and try to play a role in its revival. He's in a tenuous sort of limbo, having been trusted previously with plans for the company's revival (known privately as WICTY - Wish I Could Tell You) and now looking to get on the inside track for the next overhaul (known as D-SAW - Don't Say A Word). Very clever. The book is full of cracks at management consultants and their extended metaphors for explaining corporate transformations. The main threads of the novel focus on Russell's future at work. "The company needs to see me as an investment in the future, not a cost it wants to contain," he thinks. But at home, there's another kind of frustrating purgatory, in-between a complete fall-out with his wife and, around every corner, another chance to succeed--or fail. Russell is struggling with his "reclaimed virginity" due to the suddenly sexless nature of his marriage but meanwhile he's got his eye on the flirtatious Erika Fallon at work. (When Russell does "re-connect" with Sam, she comes across as fairly shallow and unforgiving; hard to imagine what he sees in her.) While the narrative voice crackles, I didn't find Russell, his wife or corporate partners all that rich as characters. The writing is bright and the story has a recognizable arc. For my tastes, the characters were a bit overdrawn (and shaded a bit toward cartoon) and the plot was underdrawn (and failed to generate much tension). Recommended for some light reading that might make you think about the stereotypes around the office.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serendipity, synergism and sex Oct. 20 2010
By H. Steve Burnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Imagine Harvard doing a case study reflected in the funny mirror... With sex. Out comes Russell Wiley. It's hilarious, and unbearably accurate. If you ever wondered how vain, vapid people succeed in national politics - you 'll be delighted to know the game jacks up in the publishing industry. This is brilliant stuff.
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