Lightning Rodsby Helen DeWitt
The long-awaited second novel by the author of “arguably the most exciting debut novel of the decade: The Last Samurai.” (Sam Anderson, New York).“All I want is to be a success. That’s all I ask.” Joe fails to sell a single set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in six months. Then fails to sell a single Electrolux/p>/em>/em>
The long-awaited second novel by the author of “arguably the most exciting debut novel of the decade: The Last Samurai.” (Sam Anderson, New York).“All I want is to be a success. That’s all I ask.” Joe fails to sell a single set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in six months. Then fails to sell a single Electrolux and must eat 126 pieces of homemade pie, served up by his would-be customers who feel sorry for him. Holed up in his trailer, Joe finds an outlet for his frustrations in a series of ingenious sexual fantasies, and at last strikes gold. His brainstorm, Lightning Rods, Inc., will take Joe to the very top — and to the very heart of corporate insanity — with an outrageous solution to the spectre of sexual harassment in the modern office.
An uproarious, hard-boiled modern fable of corporate life, sex, and race in America, Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods brims with the satiric energy of Nathanael West and the philosophic import of an Aristophanic comedy of ideas. Her wild yarn is second cousin to the spirit of Mel Brooks and the hilarious reality-blurring of Being John Malkovich. Dewitt continues to take the novel into new realms of storytelling — as the timeliness of Lightning Rods crosses over into timelessness.
The New York Times Book Review
Ms. Dewitt creates the problems, identifies the problems, and then figures out how to solve them. It’s an appealingly practical way to think about writing fiction, and one that ignores any distinction between realism and fantasy.”
A razor-sharp comic masterpiece.
Dewitt maintains a strong, clear, narrative voice throughout, pitch-perfectly parodying management speak, corporate culture and self-help bibles.
An absurdist comedy of the American workplace and the indignities faced by employees in today's turbo-capitalism, a quietly seething feminist critique of pornography and the commodification of women, and a category-defying fable about the meaninglessness of success.
A tightly disciplined and extremely funny satire on office politics, sexual politics, American politics, and the art of positive thinking.
"The novel is artful without artifice, unabashedly blunt in all matters sexual, and scathing in its satirical attack on sexual harassment in the workplace." - AudioFile Magazine
"...funny, filthy...its true brilliance lies in DeWitt’s careful deployment of language..." - New York Times
"an original, sometimes titillating, exploration of human nature and American initiative." - Booklist
"DeWitt's deadpanned humor makes this slim book into a complex story that works as both surrealist metaphor and corporate parody." - New York Observer, "Fall Arts Preview: Top Ten Books"
"Hyper-contemporary and artfully allegorical, Lightning Rods is a sprightly lampoon, full of corporate babble and technical jargon. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and unnervingly true...[Narrator] Dushko Petrovich's narration exaggerates DeWitt's humor without forsaking the seriousness of her satire. Lightning Rods should be required for...everyone in America." - eMusic
"Lightning Rods is A Modest Proposal for our sexually emancipated age. The only guilt involved in this pleasure will come to those who miss it." - Barnes & Noble Review
"Intelligent, funny, and absurd, Lightning Rods critiques contemporary perspectives on sex, capitalist logic, and the workplace." - Critical Mob
"In Lightning Rods, the nonperil Helen DeWitt has written a hilarious and pretty near perfect novel about...well, about selling and sex and the sound of the stories we tell ourselves, and of the stories we tell ourselves about the stories we tell ourselves, and of the stories we sell to others to help them have another story to sell to themselves, and about...did I mention sex? Lightning Rods is a strange and ingenious and happy-about-the-state-literature-making book." - Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
"Helen DeWitt shocks the reader with her intelligence. Lightning Rods, an exploration of the collective Id, is as lucid, methodical, and elegantly argued as a mathematical proof. It is also unremittingly filthy. DeWitt begins with a premise and goes on to think everything thinkable about it. A weird, generous, hilarious marvel." - Teju Cole, author of Open City
"Lightning Rods is one of the funniest, most unlikely, and most pleasurable novels I have ever read. If Henry Ford and Henry Miller got together to write a book, the result would be something like this." - Sheila Heti, author of We Need a Horse
"Savagely funny and wilfully provocative, Lightning Rods sees Helen DeWitt lets her fearless imagination run riot. A satirist up there with Swift and Orwell..." - Anthony Holden, author of Big Deal
- New Directions Publishing Corporation
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- 391 KB
Meet the Author
Helen DeWitt is the author of a “remarkable first novel” (Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Review of Books), The Last Samurai, which has been translated into twenty languages. She lives in Berlin.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I'd give this 0 stars, if that was an option. It's unfunny; poorly written; and she has no ear for how people speak. Or think. Or act. Men can be weird, people have strange ideas -- generally those are things I enjoy in fiction. Here -- nothing was entertaining. There was really only one character for as far as I could stand to read it -- about 60 pages. And I hated that guy -- but not nearly as much as I hated the writing and the premise. As I said above, it lacks humor -- and given its subject, it's not erotic -- there's no narrative skill on display, no skill with words or plotting. It just stinks. Phew. Give this one a total pass. I read this because it was part of a book tournament -- required reading. Someone writing a bad book doesn't upset me. Normally, I'd just stop reading. But putting this book up for any sort of award -- that's what offended me.
An interesting story about a unique business. It was a little slow at times and certainly got a little too weird from time to time but overall a good read.
Basically, this is a novel about a guy who decides to put glory holes into offices as a way of reducing sexual frustration and thereby reduce sexual harassment. If this description sounds like something you'd be interested in reading, then you'll like the book. If it isn't, you won't.