The Deep Whatsis

The Deep Whatsis

by Peter Mattei

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The Deep Whatsis follows a brilliant antihero staggering into madness as he navigates among Brooklyn hipsters, advertising tyrants, corporate hypocrisy, and the ghosts of his past.
Meet Eric Nye: player, philosopher, drunk, sociopath. A ruthless young Chief Idea Officer at a New York City ad agency, Eric downsizes his department,


The Deep Whatsis follows a brilliant antihero staggering into madness as he navigates among Brooklyn hipsters, advertising tyrants, corporate hypocrisy, and the ghosts of his past.
Meet Eric Nye: player, philosopher, drunk, sociopath. A ruthless young Chief Idea Officer at a New York City ad agency, Eric downsizes his department, guzzles only the finest Sancerre, pops pills, and chases women. Then one day he meets Intern, whose name he can’t remember. Will she be the cause of his downfall, or his unlikely awakening?

A gripping and hilarious satire of the inherent absurdity of advertising and the flippant cruelty of corporate behavior, The Deep Whatsis shows the devastating effects of a world where civility and respect have been fired.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eric Nye, the conceited, perpetually titillated “chief idea officer” of a New York ad agency, fashions himself an artist but in reality earns his living firing people, in Mattei’s morbidly satiric look at corporate culture at the crossroads of art and consumerism. An art snob and metrosexual, Nye relishes fine things—his “Dalai Lama Edition Tibetan” rug, expensive Oma Blue Fin sushi, and now an intern with a face like “God smiling on sunshine.” After a night with her becomes a prolonged crush, Nye finds himself unable to resist her stalkerlike infatuation and begins to push the limits of his power. When the intern shows up with a conspicuous shiner, “HR Lady,” normally Nye’s partner in crime, threatens to end the fun and go to the boss, “deranged pit bull” Barry Spinotti. It will take some ruthlessness and deft schmoozing for Nye to escape. When not cultivating his “Milgram-esque biosphere of doom” at work, Nye spends his time tormenting an old friend, lambasting Williamsburg’s “fashionable white... little fishies,” and indulging in prescription drugs. In this debut, Mattei serves up a rampant critique of haute New York society, but a frustratingly conventional finale makes you wonder if Nye has learned anything at all. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (July)
From the Publisher
"With zingy, hilarious glee, Peter Mattei takes a sharp stick and pokes it at many deserving underbellies: the puffery of corporate America; hipsters, yoga dudes, and the general pretentiousness of north Brooklyn; and many more. The Deep Whatsis is a provocative, darkly subversive, deeply satisfying novel." -Kate Christensen, winner of the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award and author of The Astral

"[A] morbidly satiric look at corporate culture at the crossroads of art and consumerism...Mattei serves up a rampant critique of haute New York society." -Publishers Weekly

"Sharp and insightful, The Deep Whatsis is a vivid portrait of a young man’s loosening grip on his humanity in the midst of the random cruelty of big business downsizing...His vision of big-city corporate life stuns with accuracy."—New York Journal of Books

"The Deep Whatsis is a novel about silly infatuation, drugs, and near-awakenings. It’s also an eloquent, punchy sendup of the advertising business and the culture that feeds it. Mattei has created a character reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis’ Patrick Bateman, Mark SaFranko’s Max Zajack, Ben Lerner’s Adam Gordon, and any of Tao Lin’s chemically dependent narrators. That Eric Nye’s voice is fresh and unique is a testament to Mattei’s talent, and the reason why fans of well-written satire should read this novel."—Rumpus

"The Deep Whatsis is a terrific satire that lampoons abusive corporate values in which dignity means nothing...readers will relish Peter Mattei’s mirthful mocking of the amoral money-makers."—Genre Go Round Reviews

"Fans of edgy fiction won’t regret picking up this one."—Library Journal

"Original, subversive and savagely funny, this book...offers a dark portrait of the cutthroat nature of the corporate world and the vapidity of our consumerist society in which the void left by a lack of humanity is filled with meaningless objects."—His Futile Preoccupations

"Beautifully rendered...The Deep Whatsis, for all its wit and charm, is a sober account of a man falling apart." —Word Riot

"Mattei has created an unforgettable character." The Oxonian Review

Library Journal
Eric Nye is a thirtysomething in the high-rolling world of corporate advertising. His preferences include drinking, snorting coke, indiscriminately bedding women, and making an awkward and cruel game out of firing his subordinates. Nye makes too much money to worry or care about anything, thinking nothing of leaving a $100 bill as payment for a $6 coffee. The security of his selfish and solitary existence is threatened when a young intern at his company begins stalking him by breaking into his emails, following him to parties, and eventually wrongfully accusing him to human resources of abuse. Nye knows it is perverse and dangerous, but he cannot help continuing his dalliance with this broken girl who is a threat to not only his job but his sanity.

Verdict This trippy debut novel about personal consequences, or the lack thereof, by a playwright/filmmaker is a provocative read. Eric’s self-absorbed, drug-fueled musings will remind readers of other classic corporate antiheroes in the tradition of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) and Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho). Fans of edgy fiction won’t regret picking up this one.—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A hotshot NYC adman-turned–corporate axeman wallows in drugs, drama and a dangerous crush as he watches his shiny hipster life blow apart at the seams. Nominally a satire, filmmaker Mattei's debut novel's enormous hurdle is that its protagonist is such a selfish, disagreeable SOB. Our main man is Eric Nye, the "Chief Idea Officer" at a trendy Manhattan advertising agency whose real charge is to downsize 50 percent of the company. Nye plays his role as the agency's bigwig with aplomb, but he's a complete train wreck, doped to the gills with antidepressants and alcohol, with a penchant for pointing out his raging erection and compulsive masturbation. What's meant to be archetypal is largely passé as Eric visits the conceptual art show called "Show Us Your Tits" and chugs Sancerre between visits to the massage parlor. During one of his drunken escapades, he has a liaison with Sabine, a cute (and very young) intern, who becomes another of Eric's risky obsessions. When Sabine shows up at work with a black eye, the HR department exiles Eric off to a commercial shoot in Los Angeles. A crippling panic attack in an airplane bathroom is just a precursor to a full-blown meltdown that ends with Nye's hospitalization. Mattei hints at unreliable narration with a mysterious Wikipedia page recounting Eric's bad behavior, a psychiatrist who turns out to be unlicensed and clues from a horrible childhood incident that drives Nye's demons. Unfortunately, Nye's sneering disdain for the trappings of his own lifestyle and the melodramatic portrayal of his anxiety disorder are off-putting enough that even a final twist can't salvage the story. Like hair metal, cocaine nights and Miami Vice, this yuppie burnout saga is past its sell-by date.

Product Details

Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.74(d)

Read an Excerpt

   I fire people. It’s my job.
   But not only do I can them, in the process I help them, or should I say I wake them up, or I should say I take the time to write for them an honorable if not epic death, a death more dramatic and meaningful than the one they would otherwise be entitled to.
   See, I was hired to “clean house” here at Tate, the ad agency in New York City where I am the Executive Creative Director slash Chief Idea Officer. I was brought in to create a culture of innovation and creativity, meaning get rid of the dead wood, shitcan the old and the slow and the weak, and that’s what I’m doing, because it’s my job. 
   At first it was something I dreaded. I hated myself. I knew I was being paid handsomely to be the one to blame, the one with the Dirty Deed, but still, it was distinctly not cool. Then I grew up. I read on page 334 of The Fountainhead where Howard Roark, say, cuts his own testicles off with a fork in front of his cousin or something, I don’t remember, not that exactly, but he does some extremely fuckedup shit that is totally ridiculous but in the end is worth it. That hit me when I read it. So after firing a handful of pathetic art directors and copywriters in their forties and fifties my attitude changed. I realized that my problem with this aspect of my job was purely in my head and that if I were to be totally honest with myself I would admit that there was something heroic about it. The thrill of the hunt, I guess. I had my prey cornered, I had the HR Lady watching me (I call her Lady but she wasn’t much older than me; tall, anorexic— lives on bagged nuts, coffee, and wine) and I had my sentence to speak, which thankfully she had written and rehearsed with me: “I’m very sorry to say this but we’re going to have to let you go.”


Meet the Author

Peter Mattei is a novelist, playwright, filmmaker, and writer for television and film. His award-winning plays have been staged in various theaters across the country to critical acclaim, and his first feature film, Love in the Time of Money, was developed at the Sundance Directors Lab and produced by Robert Redford. He’s created and written original series pilots for HBO, CBS, ABC, FOX, and other networks. He splits his time between Brooklyn, upstate New York, and
Austin, Texas.

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