Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch Paperback – Oct 12 2010
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.