- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (Oct. 12 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1935597140
- ISBN-13: 978-1935597148
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,911,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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.
This novel was quoted on the back cover as being similar to Sophie Kinsella, but I just couldn't see this connection. There was humour in this story, and Russell's character is slightly bumbling and lacks a self confidence I've discovered in Kinsella's novels, but just didn't find it compared, so don't expect a male Becky Bloomwood here. Instead, you'll find something more akin to Office Space or The Office, equally satirical and humorous with it's observations of office politics.
Overall, I really enjoyed Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch, finding it easy to read with laugh our loud moments and an interesting premise. I look forward to more by Richard Hine.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
And sometimes it did, but there didn't seem to be enough hilarity. At times, Hine tells the story almost like a novel, focusing more on advancing the plot than the zany characters that drive interest in what's happening. In most cases that would be good, but in a book that pokes fun at corporate America, I'm not sure it is.
Despite that, the book got better as it went along. The characters were good, and so was the plot, even if it took a while to find the right mix. A couple of notes:
I thought it was interesting that Russell was a mid-level executive in the story, and not just the low-level employee who usually tells these kinds of stories. It added an interesting perspective.
When I was 17, I took a creative writing class. I wrote a novella (I guess I'd call it a novella), and of course all the female characters were attractive. And because I was a 17 year old male, I spent a good deal of time describing the various outfits they wore and how they looked in them. I like to think that I've outgrown that, and I wouldn't do it if I wrote a novel at 36. But Hine does it in this book
Russell Wiley works for the Daily Business Chronicle, the fourth most popular newspaper in New York, which has undergone a great deal of corporate restructuring in the wake of print news' declining popularity. All around him Wiley sees his colleagues are anxious, angry and ambitiously trying to stay above water, and while his position is fairly secure, he isn't quite sure what to make of the new fresh-out-of-business-school consultant his boss hired to do the same project Russell did when he started at the paper, but the consultant is looking for others to do his work for him. And to top it off, Russell's relationship with his wife, Sam, is becoming increasingly chaotic--and sexless. (Russell refers to this period as "reclaiming his virginity.")
While I've never worked in as large a corporate environment as the one Hine describes, there were certainly aspects of dysfunction I've recognized through my career. I found all of the characters enjoyable (although Russell's wife isn't fleshed out nearly enough, so you never get the chance to understand why she's so angry with him) and definitely was compelled to keep reading. My one issue is that the book has been reviewed in many circles as being "as hilarious as The Office," and I don't see that. True, I rarely find things to be as hysterically funny as I'm told they will be, if the book was written to be uproariously funny I believe it fell short, but I did find it amusing and fun, and a very quick read.
Parallel to Russell's professional discontent, his marriage is also slowly falling apart and as a consequence he begins to eye the available women in the company.
My only complaint about the book is the ending, which is largely a disconnect (and therefore not very realistic) from the rest of the narrative, but which neatly resolves Russell's professional and personal grievances in one neat little (and unpredictable) package.
If you want a light and entertaining summer read, this is a book worth throwing into your beach bag.
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