2 out of 4 stars
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I was very excited to see an absurdist offering up for review. The book's blurb assured me that if I enjoyed Waiting for Godot and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, I would also enjoy this read. Since Rosencrantz is one of my favorite plays, absurdist or otherwise, I eagerly jumped into Murdering the Macho Managers (the absurd tale of an erstwhile journeyman personnel officer) (sic) by Ben Reuben.
The introduction is engaging. The author introduces himself and the idea of this story, focusing on an audience who has worked under lousy management or has gotten into a rut and lost their lives in the process. Reuben discusses how he has witnessed "absurd scenarios" throughout his time in the workplace, these experiences allowing him to create a story so that readers can understand how genuinely unnatural the workplace can be.
The beginning of the story captured my attention quickly. There are several witty turns of phrase and absurd situations that rang true to the absurdist genre. For instance, characters seem to have little control over their lives, things happen for no reason except to get the audience to consider fate and chance, and irony is so prevalent that it should be a character itself. The narrator and main character of this book is named Stephen Foster. He says he was named after the American songwriter who penned songs like "Oh, Susannah" and "Beautiful Dreamer." That Stephen Foster died at 37 years old with only change in his wallet. Our Foster has started a business, Fosters Imposters, Incorporated, that helps frustrated and downtrodden workers get rid of their macho managers. How? Murder.
Now. What is a macho manager? "Macho managers know who the worst treated employees are in the workplace. He would not help them because he knows his place and according to the macho manager, they clearly already know theirs." page 44. Foster also postulates that macho managers act like cretins, berate employees, and pay as little as possible.
The story follows Foster and other characters as he positions himself through trust and what he sees as luck to set up the demise of a macho manager. One of the more interesting secondary characters is Norris, who runs a sandwich shop and has a fascinating perspective of food. He lives by a mantra similar to "You are what you eat," but more specifically, he believes that what you eat places you into one of 70 categories. There also is Jennie, Foster's friend and near love interest. She dresses like a hippie, possesses a magical presence, and teaches primary school. She is well-read, thoughtful, and intelligent. Foster describes her as being "either a genius or clinically insane." page 117.
Unfortunately, the farther I got into the book, the less absurdist things were, and the more common they became. The author seemed to have a good grasp of the beginning and end of the story. Without giving any spoilers, the end also had some attributes that I would call quite absurdist. However, it seemed as if the middle of the story was just put in as a bridge between two great ideas.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. There were many errors in this book, more than ten in the introduction alone. Most concerned punctuation, but there were also several editing issues. They were quite distracting, so I am taking a star for errors. I am also taking a star for lack of consistent absurdity, which sounds like an oxymoron, but I am referring to the entirety of the storyline. I don't recommend this book unless you are seeking raw, partially absurdist material to edit. Any prospective readers should know there is some suggestive language, profanity, and gore.
murdering the macho managers
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