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Bonjour Laziness: Jumping Off the Corporate Ladder Hardcover – May 31, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The press release explains this book's presence on our shores: 270,000 and counting sold in France; 70,000 plus in Spain; 3,000–4,000 copies a day on release in Germany; and rights sold in at least 19 other countries. Bonjour Paresse is not quite an update of Steal This Book for the age of corporate globalism, but the intent is similar: personal satisfaction and cultural change through the sabotage of capital. Maier's passive version, whereby one disengages from one's job and floats through work minimally, is already in active practice by any number of American workers. And the set of justifications for it she offers over six chapters isn't new, whether outrage at the corporate degradation of language or ire at the planned obsolescence of workers. But it's not the familiarity of the ideas that's the problem: what's off is Maier's gently ironic sense of proposing an honorable response to big governments and businesses that have mishandled big responsibilities. While Americans argue about big government, there has never been anything comparable here to the recently decimated social welfare states Maier laments. The inert revenge that she proposes comes off as plain lack of gumption, annoyance or sour grapes. The book will do better in Canada. Agent, Beth Vesel.(June 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Provocative . . . highly readable . . . refreshing . . . [and] practical. . . . An exhilarating complaint against work.” –The Los Angeles Times

“[Maier] has become a countercultural heroine almost overnight by encouraging . . . workers to adopt her strategy of ‘active disengagement.’” –The New York Times

“A graceful attack on the corporate world [and] a trenchant dissection of ‘corporate culture’ [with] practical suggestions for subverting the workplace.” –The Village Voice

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First American Edition- First Printing edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375423734
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Of course, she doesn't propose any remedies.
She's funny at times, but after reading the whole book, it gets nothing short of depressing.
There are many great anecdotes, and some insightful "hmmms".
Karen C

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Bramborek on June 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is really eye opener. Of course, the thesis is not new. Of course - everybody knows Dilbert. But Dilbert is something a little bit different - a joke. True, this joke is about real world, real people - but it's a joke. Bonjour laziness is not a joke, this is a book that shows that different life, different kind of work is possible. Of course, what Ms Maier proposes is a provocation - let's try to pretend that we work. Why? because all of this, our bosses, our desks, our positions our visiting cards is just an illusion. Try to live real life, life for yourselves, not life for your company.

If you are trying hard to make a career you may not like this book.

But try to answer one question. Imagine you are 75 years old and you wonder what your life was for. What will be the answer? That you earned a couple of bucks for your company? That you became the youngest manager in your company? Or maybe you'd prefer: I was happy?
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Hound Dog 56 on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Bonjour Laziness" goes against everything you've ever been taught about becoming a professional. Maeir encourages an anarchistic approach to corporate life, one which professes that the avoidance of responsibility and action is the best revenge against an oppressive bureacratic structure, and that increased job satisfaction will come with working less.

This is a book which is highly original, and probably one which some people will find disturbing because it goes so against the American work ethic of taking on more and more responsibility -- and that your success in life is dictated by the length of your title and the size of your paycheck. In that sense it is very European -- and of course very French, Maeir being a native of France -- but it also tries to take a broader view of why we work and what the end result is.

Maier saves her biggest rips at upper corporate management, accusing them of being relatively lazy, greedy users of the workforce. This is certainly Marxist in viewpoint, and her answer for what to do about it, is to slow the wheels of the corporate machine from within. Her points are not entirely false, but she does emphasize that the real work of companies are being done by those at the low end of the totem pole, something that's difficult to dispute.

Anyone hwo has worked for a large corporation can readily understand many of her points of view. The goal of corporate life is to conform, to impress your superiors and to fit in with a larger culture. Successfully doing so means getting more and more tangible rewards; the failure to do so will mean being expunged from the safe, secure world of the corporate family. For those who get their identity and self-worth from their careers, this is indeed a problem.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on July 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy a jaded take on the corporate life as much as any cube dweller. I figured that's what I was getting with "Bonjour Laziness." However, I should have checked it out a bit better before making my purchase, because it was ultimately a disappointing read.

This is a very cynical and depressing perspective on being a wage earner. A somewhat harsh indictment of a subject can work, but to avoid becoming an exercise in nihilism it needs two important counterpoints: 1) a sense of humor, and 2) reasonable alternatives. Scott Adams' "Dilbert" has the former, and books like "The Joy of Not Working" by Ernie Zelinski contain the latter. Unfortunately, "Bonjour Laziness" lacks either of these leavening qualities, and overall was a bummer (at least it was short). A bleak outlook that culminates with bullet points on resigning oneself to a life of job-related misery doesn't really do it for me. Even corporate slams like "The Office" and "Office Space" had happy endings.

This book was originally published in France. I happen to like France, and I have some great memories of interacting with the French in Paris. Therefore, I find it hard to believe that this is their defining sense of workplace destiny. There is a lot of history and beauty in Paris alone, and so many things to enjoy and experience either alone or with others. If the author had contrasted her negative view of the corporate grind with a "French Women Don't Get Fat" or "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong" angle on finding happiness outside of the office, "Bonjour Laziness" would have been a better effort.

To be fair, the author does score some zingers, and possibly provides a glimpse into French corporate culture. Perhaps it reads better in French, and taps a Gallic sense of humor that got lost in translation to English. But as it stands, I'd recommend saying "au revoir" to "Bonjour Laziness."
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Debra Morse on October 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You have to give her credit. Corinne Maier takes a witty idea that could be articulated in under fifty words, and stretches it out into a full book. Perhaps this is part of the joke within a joke.

Maier convincingly writes that since the wage earner is the modern day slave, since work is not a place for fulfillment, and since what you do is utterly pointless, the most adaptive thing to be done to remain sane is to maintain the status quo: remain invisible, never take a position of responsibility, and become a parasite. After all, we are managed by " Homo economicus cretinus", so who will ever find out?

This would be a great little gift book for an executive who takes themselves way, way, too seriously. Then again, they probably wouldn't understand it. Better to circulate your copy amongst your fellow oppressed worker bees and giggle over your fourth coffee break of the day.
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