Overview

Robert Harbert, better known as Harb, is Executive Vice President in Charge of Total Quality. CaroleAnne Winter is the assistant who runs his life. But even Harb can't ignore that CaroleAnne's behavior is increasingly peculiar. At the same time, the vagaries of corporate power shift, and suddenly, both Harb and his Total Quality mandate are vulnerable. It's at this moment that CaroleAnne levels a stunning charge: that she has been the target of an organized campaign of sexual harassment from her first days at the...
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You Look Nice Today

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Overview

Robert Harbert, better known as Harb, is Executive Vice President in Charge of Total Quality. CaroleAnne Winter is the assistant who runs his life. But even Harb can't ignore that CaroleAnne's behavior is increasingly peculiar. At the same time, the vagaries of corporate power shift, and suddenly, both Harb and his Total Quality mandate are vulnerable. It's at this moment that CaroleAnne levels a stunning charge: that she has been the target of an organized campaign of sexual harassment from her first days at the company. The investigation she demands will reach to the highest levels of the corporation-and at its center, she insists, must be the greatest offender of all: Harb.
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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Bing's satires of the business world have the allure of inside dope, given that their pseudonymous author is also a corporate executive. His latest novel concerns one Robert (Harb) Harbert, who seems too human to last at the Global Fiduciary Trust Company: "More than one fellow officer had told him that his need to trivialize and ridicule corporate life would get the better of him one of these days." In fact, Harb's undoing is his compassion for his secretary, an apparently vulnerable creature named CarolAnne. She repays his cloying kindnesses (generous raises, a car, an apartment) with a harassment suit. The second half of the novel is a series of transcripts from the trial. Unfortunately, the courtroom animates Bing's comic gift less effectively than the daily grind of the office and the soul-smothering masquerade of being a company man.
The New York Times
… Bing is in control, a savvy decoder of the sleights and feints of co-worker interaction. — Hugo Lindgren
Publishers Weekly
With this sardonic, entertaining legal thriller about a discrimination suit brought against a high-level corporate executive by his administrative assistant, Fortune columnist Bing tells a story of sexual harassment that's not about sex. Robert Harbert, or Harb, executive vice-president of Global Corporation's Total Quality department, falls for gorgeous uber-temp of indeterminate race CaroleAnne Winters, who saves the day on an important project. Recognizing her talent, Harb hires CaroleAnne full-time, but their cordial business relationship quickly grows too cozy: Harb gets CaroleAnne a corporate apartment to help her escape an abusive husband, gives her his aging car and brings her on business trips, which include boozy late nights that stop short of physical intimacy. CaroleAnne's behavior becomes erratic, though, when her spiritual side surfaces and she begins holding prayer meetings with a companion in the company's empty offices. Her tightly wound demeanor in the office is a harbinger of trouble to come, and when Harb tries to diffuse the tension between them by offering CaroleAnne a promotion to a different department, she refuses it, quits her job and sues Harb and the firm for sexual harassment and cultural insensitivity, to the tune of $150 million. The density of detail makes for slow going early in the novel, but the account of the civil trial that follows is a riveting and often hilarious account of CaroleAnne's fabrications and the corporate legal response, with Bing exposing the ways in which seemingly ordinary problems and human foibles take on new dimensions when they hit the legal system. Though the conclusion is a bit of a letdown, this is a great read and Bing's best take to date on how people cope with the political idiosyncrasies of the buttoned-down business world. Author tour; major ad/promo. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The pseudonymous Bing, who is a CBS vice president and a columnist for Fortune magazine, returns to the themes of his first novel, Lloyd, that is, tough times in the corporate machine. Robert Harbert, head of Total Quality management for a multinational conglomerate, is a regular good guy brought low by the delusional machinations of his capable and beautiful assistant, CaroleAnne Winter. From the perspective of Fred Tell, head of human resources, the reader learns that "Harb" took CaroleAnne under his wing, protected her from domestic abuse, and rewarded her with promotions and bonuses. After a time, however, CaroleAnne begins to unravel mentally, suffering unsettling visions and seeking out empty offices in which to chant. She also discerns a hostile environment and brings suit against the corporation and Harb for sexual harassment. During the course of the ensuing trial, the reader is assured by both Tell and the facts that the relationship between CaroleAnne and Harb was never unprofessional. A more interesting story would have employed an unreliable narrator, but that would have been a more difficult novel to write. As it stands, though, the story will ring true with anyone who has had to deal with unbalanced employees. Satirical, well written, and recommended for large fiction collections.-Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wry account of a sexual harassment lawsuit that's really a captivating, suspenseful love letter to American middle management, from Fortune columnist Bing, who (as CBS executive Gil Schwartz) has lived it. Beautiful, pleasant, a bit sexy, and amazingly competent CaroleAnne Winter isn't all she seems. An office temp hired at Global Fiduciary Trust, an international investment firm based in Chicago, CaroleAnne performs so well that she's immediately hired as personal assistant to Robert Harbert, the blandly inspiring, comfortably married Executive Vice President in charge of Total Quality. As Human Resources Vice President Fred Tell looks on, Harb comes to adore his new secretary. He pulls every string he can to give her raises, help her escape her abusive marriage, find a better apartment. He even gives her his old sedan so he can buy himself a new BMW. In return, CaroleAnne becomes his trusted lieutenant, setting up meetings, taking notes, even walking barefoot on his spine when his back goes out-though the relationship is perfectly chaste. Still, there's something odd about CaroleAnne: she has "prayer sessions" with another employee, and she keeps a secret notebook. Then, when a change in the economic climate causes cutbacks in Harb's department, leaving her (and her boss) with little to do, CaroleAnne suddenly hands in her resignation. Unfortunately, she's been such a good employee, no one wants to fire her. After refusing reassignment, she complains that she's been subject to relentless sexual harassment and sues Global for $150 million. Second-novelist Bing (Lloyd: What Happened, 1998) never lets us doubt that CaroleAnne is a nut case, and, as the trial proceeds, the real focus shiftsto Harb, whose life is at first destroyed and then, miraculously, reborn. CaroleAnne becomes a pathetic stand-in for all who hate big business, while Harb's astonishing transformation shows that there's more to life than unlimited expense accounts, stock options, and the cozy certainties of corporate culture. While its ending is foreordained (and a bit pat), the story succeeds marvelously in its seasoned appreciation of the many pleasures-and perils-of executive life. (See the July 15 issue of Kirkus for The Big Bing.) First printing of 50,000
Time
"Roundly entertaining and surprisingly touching… You Look Nice Today is a comic novel with a tragic heart...A cockeyed love letter to the executive suite."
Christian Science Monitor
"What a wonderful novel to argue about and chuckle over. If there are any truly integrated book clubs in America-not just by race, but by gender and class-here's a title for discussion that will delay dessert."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596917187
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 12/10/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,323,950
  • File size: 752 KB

Meet the Author

Stanley Bing's books include Throwing the Elephant, What Would Machiavelli Do?, and The Big Bing, as well as the novel Lloyd: What Happened, which is currently being developed for HBO. A columnist for Fortune, he also works for a huge multinational corporation whose identity is one of the worst-kept secrets in business.
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Table of Contents

Book 1 Carole Anne 1
Book 2 The Trial 93
Book 3 Harb 181
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 18, 2010

    You Look Nice Today: A White Paper/Case Study On A Non-Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

    You Look Nice Today by Stanley Bing, is more a mix of a white paper or case study in a non-sexual harassment lawsuit. Writing a review for this novel, and being honest and fair to the author, I would say the book is good, but it lacks the elements that would have make it a great book.
    The characters of the story, Robert [Harb] Harbert, Executive Vice President in charge of Total Quality, main character of the story, CaroleAnne Winters, Harb's Assistant, and Fred Tell, Vice President of Human Resources, also the narrator of the story. When I said the book lacked some elements I would love to have seen in it, one of them is the development of the characters, I think Harb's character has an uncertainty throughout the whole book, and being the main character of the story, it should have been developed more. We don't know to much about him in the beginning, and when the author tries to reveal a closer look into his persona I would say is too late. In the other hand CaroleAnne's is just perfect, everything about her character was likable. Fred Tell's besides his obvious title , I did not find his role interesting or adding anything important in the book.
    The plot and the writing style could have made the difference in this novel. The book is divided in three parts, CaroleAnne's part is the one that I found more closer to be a case study or white paper, Facts , and more Facts, the pace of the first part is really slow, and makes you dislike the book, however; it is essential for the writing technique and plot used by the author. The second Part, The Trial, is not as bad as the first one, this came as a surprise, because it made me want to finish the book. The last part titled "Harb" is the best, not because is the conclusion of the book, but because it leaves you with the sense of wanting to know more about the main character.

    I would never write a bad review for a book, just because of the fact that writing a novel I supposed is never easy. However; I would comment on the fact that, it could have been much better. Everything that could have been needed to create a great book was there. Take away the format the plot was described, and the writing style used for every character, and their placement in the story. And you will get yourself a great book.
    Needless to say, Harb and CaroleAnne are great, I give Bing all the credit for creating two great characters, as well for trying to make this story as funny as it could be at times. And He is absolutely right " No good deed goes unpunished", or what's not to like about Harb!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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