Minding the Store: Great Literature About Business

Overview

In a course he taught at Harvard Business School and elsewhere for many years, esteemed psychiatrist Robert Coles asked future money market managers and risk arbitrageurs to pause for a semester and reflect on the ethical dimensions of their chosen profession.

Now, for corporate professionals, armchair entrepreneurs, and other students of commerce, Coles has gathered a generous and stimulating collection of classic literary reflections on the ...

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Overview

In a course he taught at Harvard Business School and elsewhere for many years, esteemed psychiatrist Robert Coles asked future money market managers and risk arbitrageurs to pause for a semester and reflect on the ethical dimensions of their chosen profession.

Now, for corporate professionals, armchair entrepreneurs, and other students of commerce, Coles has gathered a generous and stimulating collection of classic literary reflections on the ethical and spiritual predicaments of the business world.

From John Cheever’s descriptions of a businessman who endures a moral crisis after stealing a neighbor’s wallet, and Gwendolyn Parker’s “Uppity Buppie,” in which an African American woman ascends to the upper ranks of corporate America, to Death of a Salesman and Tolstoy’s “Master and Man,”Minding the Store offers a richly human vision of the business world. With selections by Joseph Heller, Flannery O’Connor, Ann Beattie, and John Updike, Coles gives us the essential literary gems that illuminate the human predicaments of commerce and the moral quandaries of the marketplace.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Who and what is Robert Coles? Social scientist, humanist, political activist, psychiatrist, minstrel, wandering storyteller, mysitc, wise man, poet, dissenter, and yes, I’ll use the word, secular saint." —Andrew Greely, Chicago Tribune

"By now most people know Robert Coles. Or for their own sake they ought to." —The New York Times Book Review

The Barnes & Noble Review
More than we sleep, play, or make love, we work. Yet despite -- or perhaps because of -- this dominant daily grind, much of our literature is biased toward other pursuits. Nonetheless, there exists a substantial body of fiction concerned with labor and craft, selling and acquiring, professional zest and despair. Famed sociologist and psychiatrist Robert Coles and co-editor Albert Lafarge have collected short works of fiction and nonfiction in an anthology that admirably captures this overlooked literary subject in an entertaining and thought-provoking fashion. The famous bards of the marketplace -- John O'Hara, John Cheever, John Updike among them -- are all represented with well-considered, un-stale selections, while lesser-known authors such as Jean Thompson provide equally exceptional offerings. The selection, strong as it is, will provoke readers to offer counterweight items, in particular anti-work voices such as Jack Kerouac's. The purely American focus is limiting, and a couple of poets defined famously by their day jobs -- T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens -- surely must have had something to bring to the table. The anthology as a whole neither fully condemns nor completely endorses our preoccupation with work and its costs and rewards, but does see the subject as an ineluctable constant. No Wordsworths, lamenting how with "getting and spending we lay waste our powers," need apply. --Paul DiFilippo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595583550
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Pages: 303
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Coles is a psychiatrist and writer. Until recently, he was the James Agee Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University. He is a co-editor, with Randy Testa, of A Life in Medicine: A Literary Anthology and Growing Up Poor: A Literary Anthology; a co-editor, with Albert LaFarge, of Minding the Store: Great Writing About Business, from Tolstoy to Now; and the author of Lives We Carry with Us: Profiles of Moral Courage, edited by David D. Cooper, all published by The New Press. His many books also include The Moral Intelligence of Children and Bruce Springsteen’s America: The People Listening, a Poet Singing. Coles received a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his acclaimed five-volume Children of Crisis series, a MacArthur Award in 1981, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, and the National Humanities Medal in 2001. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

Albert LaFarge, PhD, founded the Albert LaFarge Literary Agency in 2003. He was deputy editor of DoubleTake magazine, working alongside Robert Coles, MD, with whom he co-edited Minding the Store: Great Writing About Business, from Tolstoy to Now (The New Press). LaFarge is the editor of The Essential William H. Whyte; has contributed articles to American Way, Commonwealth, and the New York Times; and has been interviewed on CNN. He has taught writing and editing at Harvard College and Boston University and since 2012 has been a visiting lecturer in liberal arts at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

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Table of Contents

Preface Robert Coles Coles, Robert

Introduction Albert LaFarge LaFarge, Albert

Pt. 1 The Hard Sell

"Are These Actual Miles?" Raymond Carver Carver, Raymond 3

"The Hardware Man" John O'Hara O'Hara, John 12

from John Henry Days Colson Whitehead Whitehead, Colson 27

"Fully Utilized" Steven C. Lo Lo, Steven C. 34

from Youngblood Hawke Herman Wouk Wouk, Herman 43

"Give the Devils No Mercy" William H. Whyte Whyte, William H. 52

Pt. 2 The Office

"The Office in Which I Work" Joseph Heller Heller, Joseph 63

"My Neighbor" Franz Kafka Kafka, Franz 70

from Volunteer Slavery Jill Nelson Nelson, Jill 72

"Uppity Buppie" Gwendolyn M. Parker Parker, Gwendolyn M. 83

from The Moviegoer Walker Percy Percy, Walker 95

Pt. 3 The Rich Man's House

"The Housebreaker of Shady Hill" John Cheever Cheever, John 105

"Janus" Ann Beattie Beattie, Ann 126

"Babbitt Rising" Sinclair Lewis Lewis, Sinclair 132

"The Rich Man's House" Jean Thompson Thompson, Jean 141

Pt. 4 Coming Up Short

"Good Country People" Flannery O'Connor O'Connor, Flannery 159

"The Loser" Michael Thomas Thomas, Michael 180

"Money" James Agee Agee, James 188

"I Was Dropped" Studs Terkel Terkel, Studs 195

"The Man Higher Up" O. Henry Henry, O. 200

Pt. 5 You Can't Take It With You

from Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller Miller, Arthur 215

"An Outpost of Progress" Joseph Conrad Conrad, Joseph 219

"My Uncle's Death" John Updike Updike, John 243

"Master and Man" Leo Tolstoy Tolstoy, Leo 251

Acknowledgments and Permissions 301

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