The Happy Soul Industry Paperback – Aug 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the agency's that's up for the running CN&W, has a president with a serious anger/ depression problem, the Creative Director has a serious drug problem and their personal assistant has joined a cult (that sounds suspiciously like Scientology) in an effort to find meaning in her life.
I liked this book. It was funny and clearly a social commentary on our society - you will find recognize many of the references in this book. And its description of the advertising industry is very accurate, as it's after all written by a veteran of the industry.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Who among us, after a week of endless, pointless meetings in which the first item on the agenda was scheduling the next meeting, in which half the people showed up late and the other half didn’t show up at all, in which goalposts were moved, parentage was questioned, and logic ignored – who among us has not thought “oh if only our client were… well, what would be the ideal client? What brand? What category? What industry? What CMO?”
Would “goodness” have made it onto the first page of your list?
Yeah, me neither.
And to be clear, by “goodness” I’m not referring to Goodness, the fresh food and juice bar in Tucson, Arizona or the organic beauty line or even the handmade products pushed out of Wieden + Kennedy. I’m referring to the actual quality of goodness. Or, as the client, David Angelo, explains in Stefan Postaer’s novel “The Happy Soul Industry” (to read the rest of this review, please visit: the-agency-review.com/happy-soul)
The central idea - that God would like to use the American advertising industry to promote goodness - is interesting but the execution is simplistic with cardboard characters, ham-handed descriptions, and eye-rolling narrative as well as story inconsistencies and errors.
The author attempts to shock and surprise but things are so obvious and lamely-presented that each attempt can be seen not only a mile away but fizzles when it gets to the reader.
I am not a Christian but if I were, many of the ideas in this book would be offensive, so watch out if you're sensitive that way (also a good warning for Scientologists). I am, however, a bit offended (if one can be offended by such 11th-grade stuff) that the author thinks it appropriate to pretend that Eve (and so, by extention, women) was a construct of Satan. Even the Bible, that bastion of misogyny, says Eve was created by God and the snake was the one who was evil. Whatever.
I can see that Postaer is angling for a movie treatment for this. I think that with the proper director, a very good screenwriter and skilled actors this might be a good movie. As a book, though, this piece is paper-thin (no pun intended) and feels, again, like something you'd find on your teenager's computer.
I would like to soften this review a bit by saying that it's great that Postaer had the dedication to write a book and have it published. I am not a writer and I have never done that. I wish him luck. For the potential reader who is looking at this review on Amazon and trying to decided whether to buy it or not I have to say that it is really not worth your money or time.
When I learned he had written a couple books, one being, "The Happy Soul Industry," I picked it up and knocked it out in a couple of sittings, unable to put it down. It's an engrossing, great read. My only qualm is that it ended quickly...leaving me with the question, "What happens next?"
Briefly, the gist of the novel is that God decides to choose an advertising agency to promote goodness. In an effort to do so, God's emissary, an angel, changes the lives of those with whom he interacts,and ultimately himself. The characters are easily understood as they question themselves, and the world around them.
There's a point being made by the novel, and that point is: There's a dark and sordid underbelly to the advertising industry that isn't openly spoken about; it exists, but is largely ignored. The Happy Soul Industry draws this underbelly into the light without delving too deeply, highlighting that even those who start with the best intentions get sucked in, one small sacrifice at a time. Some are able to justify themselves while others pay a moral price.
The Happy Soul Industry is like an amusement park ride; fast, exciting, and definitely worth it.
What I like about The Happy Soul Industry is that it actually embraces all of these stereotypes, and stays comedic and positive. Yes there are screwed up people in the advertising business. Women who use sex to advance their careers. Ad execs who drive SUVs like they own the road because they are rich and feel entitled. But it's hilarious.
By so perfectly nailing these stereotypes, Postaer makes a greater statement about the stereotypes themselves - that they're just that: stereotypes. The choice is yours as to whether you let these stereotypes suck away your soul or whether you find them a source of creative inspiration, as Postaer did, and as I, the reader, did.
The plot is well structured, and unfolds in unexpected and whacky ways. This is a book that's easy to read, and definitely a page-turner. The characters and events are so well-described that you almost see them - and maybe someday you will. My fingers are crossed for the day this book gets made into a movie.