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The Wages of Genius
     

The Wages of Genius

by Gregory Mone
 

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Almost a century after the birth of a big-headed man who altered our conceptions of light, energy, mass, space, and time, a boy with a similarly large head was born in Ionia, Wyoming. Meet Edward, a self-proclaimed genius who considers the parallels between his life and Albert Einstein's proof of his exceptional brilliance. Nearly twenty-six (Einstein's age the year

Overview

Almost a century after the birth of a big-headed man who altered our conceptions of light, energy, mass, space, and time, a boy with a similarly large head was born in Ionia, Wyoming. Meet Edward, a self-proclaimed genius who considers the parallels between his life and Albert Einstein's proof of his exceptional brilliance. Nearly twenty-six (Einstein's age the year he discovered E=MC2), he is getting nowhere with his wildly expanding dissertation on science's evolving conception of the void-in short, the modern scientific history of nothing. Convinced that he is on the verge of a major breakthrough, he leaves graduate school and lands an entry-level job at an innovative new company, hoping his intelligence will be put to better use there. Although he's not sure exactly what the company does, Edward believes that with his keen mind and original ideas he will revolutionize everything from cubicle culture to the global marketplace. Told in Edward's endearing, delusional voice, The Wages of Genius is not only a hilarious parody of corporate culture a la Walter Kirn's Up in the Air, but a sympathetic portrait of a hapless young man (think Ignatius J. Reilly) with poor judgment, bad luck, and the best of intentions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mone's sardonic debut novel is a curious hybrid, a coming-of-age-cum-business novel that begins when a young man who believes himself to be the second coming of Albert Einstein takes a job with a high-flying dot-com at the height of the Internet boom. Edward is the naive first-person narrator and would-be genius who tracks his intellectual development by comparing his ideas to Einstein's in a series of cheeky opening chapters. After bypassing the traditional educational system, Edward lands a job with an e-business company called Global Leading Edge E-Business Solutions, or Gleebs for short. Never mind his lack of discernible skills-the company's entrepreneurial CEO quickly gives Edward the title of general analyst and charges him to help "advance our study of nothing." Edward succeeds remarkably well, coming up with several fluffy, conceptual projects that mirror Einstein's ideas but do next to nothing for the company. When the dot-com bubble begins to deflate, Edward's lack of productivity is noticed by his fellow employees and the company's venture capitalist, who does a one-on-one interview with Edward that reveals his total lack of tangible duties. The combination of the business parody and Edward's sly Einstein parallels make for a heady blend in the early going, but unfortunately Mone is hard-pressed to maintain his inventive conceit in the second half as the prose unravels into a patchwork of hackneyed, clumsy scenes when the company begins to bottom out. Mone is a solid writer with a flair for satire and a nice touch in his understated characterizations, but like the dot-com boom that frames his narrative, he lacks the staying power here to close out a promising idea. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut that tries to ask what’s happened to the pursuit of genius in corporate America. A genius has been born in Ionia, Wyoming. His name is Edward. He might not score high on an IQ test—neither would Michelangelo—and he tends to study smarmy things like the telepathic ability of dogs. And Einstein. In fact, he’s obsessed with Einstein because the great physicist was 26 when he made his big discovery, and Edward’s 26, too. The pressure’s on, Edward’s very future on the line. And with all the smart people in the world heading into the Internet, Edward has allowed himself to take the break of jumping from his think-tank to a start-up called Gleebs (Global Leading Edge E-Business Solutions). Here, he finds contentment if not challenge: "I close my eyes and inhale the intoxicating scent of fresh coffee and economic revolution. This is where I belong." And is this so different, really, from Einstein’s work as a patent clerk? What follows is a relatively routine tale of office life (populated with self-help books, CNNfn, and Jar Jar Binks) spliced together with details of Einstein’s early life—and the suggestion that Edward might be headed for genius after all. The details of modern physics may be meant to titillate, but their recitation, in Edward’s not-so-sophisticated voice, makes them sound far less smart than you might wish. Amusing juxtapositions arise—Big Bang theory alongside intense discussion of the importance of international marketing—and, though the lack of a plot may be intended to mirror Edward’s directionlessness as his brilliance confronts a vapid world, the device is actually detrimental in creating chunks of narrative null space. Edward is on his wayto discovering that out he is ordinary. How can this not be a disappointment for us, too? Relativity for the Common Man meets an average modern-office novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786713271
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/09/2004
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.64(w) x 8.72(h) x 0.85(d)

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Meet the Author

Gregory Mone is a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine. His feature articles have appeared in Wired, Discover, Women’s Health, National Geographic Adventure, and The Best American Science Writing 2007. He is also the author of the novel The Wages of Genius. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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