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E: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lightbulb jokes, office snafus and scatological humor are ostensibly the stuff of comedy in this debut epistolary novel constituted solely of e-mails. It's the dawn of the new millennium and the London advertising firm of Miller Shanks is about to embark on two weeks of intensive effort with the goal of winning the most impressive jewel in the industry's crown: the $84 billion Coca-Cola account. Meanwhile, a team has been dispatched to Mauritius for a location shoot, where they run afoul of Ivana Trump, and a technological glitch has been rerouting all of the CEO's communications to the Helsinki office, so the Finns have cheerfully blundered their way into the Coke campaign with an ABBA-esque pitch. The one-dimensional characters are predictable typesDthe prima donna creative director, the touchy-feely copywriter, the many sycophants and backstabbersDwith not a real protagonist in sight to hang the reader's sympathies on. The plot is thin, the internecine conflicts will likely intrigue only those with a particular interest in advertising, the constant paranoid jockeying for power is tiresome and the clich d office sexual shenanigans lose their juice when played out in the noncorporeal land of cyberspace. In an age of swiftly advancing technology, this material already seems dated with its Y2K references. In theory, a novel composed solely of digital correspondence should provide voyeuristic, warp-speed fun. In practice, this one is like reading endless pages of other people's junk mail. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


'A brilliantly plotted comic novel about life in an advertising agency, narrated entirely through office emails. It gives me more sense that literature is alive and kicking than anything else I've read in these millennial 12 months.' Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times Review of the Year 'Lively, viciously funny and about as switched on as a novel can be' Mirror 'Hilarious' Cosmopolitan 'A genuinely enjoyable page-turner' The Times 'e is the most enjoyable, addictive read I've had since Bridget Jones' Lisa Jewell 'Here's a book that recognises our true priorities: blame-shifting, arse-covering, personal enhancement, shagging -- and, oh yes, the odd advert. Matt compresses into a few weeks a dazzling cascade of events, most of which have either happened at one agency or another or are otherwise completely believable. A finer observer of agency politics you'll never meet.' Andrew Cracknell, Campaign 'Depicts the Machiavellian scheming and summary sackings of the ad world in withering detail and with no shortage of dead-eye wit' The Times ' internet-enabled Clarissa for the 21st century' Evening Standard 'Hysterical, sensationally funny' Arena 'Read it, wipe away your tears, then read it again' Company 'Fab debut...lock eyes with Matt Beaumont. Your career may depend on it' Kirkus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452281881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452281882
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on October 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I literally fell across 'e' while looking for 'Syrup' by Maxx Barry...Matt Beaumont's first novel stood next to it alphabetically. Just got off a Dulles-to-SFO flight and confirmed that these 346 pages can be devoured in one sitting. I must have looked like a complete whacko sitting in my seat with tears of laughter running down my cheeks.
Folks, this may be the funniest book you ever read bar none. And amazingly, it is told completely in e-mail format. Takes you about 10 pages to get used to it, but after that it flows smooth and easy. Who would have thought that such complete character development was possible via e-mail dialogue?
By the end of the book, you could show me 10 of these missives and I could identify the author of each one. Beaumont is just amazingly creative in this effort. The groundwork he lays for the intricate e-mail exchanges is breathtaking.
Just one character to watch out for (among many): Simon Horne, head of Creative Services. A completely amazing creation...all the more because Beaumont has no doubt drawn him from his experiences in the advertising industry.
I feel the need to spread the word about this great book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on November 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you are in the mood for something quick, light, fun and funny, look no further than "e." I didn't really know what to expect from a book written entirely in inter-office e-mails, but it works! Matt Beaumont has done a superb job with this novel. I eagerly await the sequel.
"e" is the story of a group of employees at one of London's top advertising agencies, Miller Shanks, and the two weeks of preparation before the big Coca-Cola pitch. Landing Coke is quite a deal, but left in the...ahem...capable hands of the creative department, it is as good as done. Meanwhile, there are disasters on the horizon with other clients, and, of course, an office isn't an office without co-worker rivalry. "e" provides readers with all the juicy details!
Despite knowing any background information or characteristics of the characters, Matt Beaumont has managed, through the e-mails, to give them all distinct voices. It took several pages to finally put it all together, but their personalities eventually shined through. I loved this novel and all it's two-faced bigwigs, [weak] employees, backstabbing, love triangles, and corportate politics. Hilariously written and one I will definitely read again. I also suggest Syrup by Maxx Barry, another great novel based in the corporate world, this time in behind-the-scenes Coca-Cola itself.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. H. E. WHITE on November 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hand on my heart, it's been a long time since I have read anything quite as amusing as this splendid début novel by Matt Beaumont. As a wannabe novelist myself, still awaiting my first break, and as a fan of the epistolary genre, I could kick myself that I did not think first of this splendid idea for a novel myself. Namely: a book written entirely in e-mails amongst the staff of an advertising agency in London, weaving a tale of intrigue, sexuality, back-stabbing, hypocrisy and office politics.
Without giving too much away, "E" is about three weeks inside an advertising agency trying to land a lucrative deal with *Coca-Cola*. But there is much more to it than this. Beaumont gives each secretary, each copywriter, each creative and each manager a really lifelike personality, with their own ways of writing, making each character immediately recognisable both within the novel and in the real life that we live in. We've all met a Simon Horne or a Pinki Fallon in our lives. The medium in which Beaumont has chosen to write his novel admirably and successfully emphasises the constant back-stabbing and twofacedness that takes place on an hourly basis. The speed at which e-mail travels makes the whole experience seem more real and dynamic.
Of course, we are not talking about brilliant writing here... in order to make the novel seem more lifelike, the e-mail writers are given their own idiosyncrasies, and occasionally there are intentional misspellings. It makes the novel seem more authentic. What is brilliant is the story itself as it unravels before us, the snowballing lies, the outrageous behaviour.
"E" has put the E back in e-pistolary.
Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vaughn Davis on March 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Corks, yet another former copywriter turning his back on the evil empire and following his muse!
Actually though, Matt Beaumont hasn't fallen very far from the tree with this one, an exposé of life in a purportedly fictional London ad agency over the course of two hectic weeks. You have to believe, then, that he knows what he's talking about. The result is a novel that rings so true you're feeling the characters' pain by page three. (And their panties by page 33.)
There are lots of reasons to love this book. The antipodean version (and I guess that means the UK one) is subtitled "a hilariously funny novel," which you have to admire. Its email-based format means it's a damned quick read. Let's talk about that format a little. There is no, absolutely no, linking text. The entire story is told through emails, complete with addresees, cc's, bcc's and time stamps. I thought this would make for a difficult read, but it doesn't. If you're used to working in an organisation where your emails and vmails outnumber f2f's it doesn't take long to pick up the flow of the story.
I think it's even got some edges over traditional narrative. In the time it takes to read six one-sentence emails you get six different perspectives on the same event, complete with insights into how each character chooses to "spin" their response to each other. Checking the cc and bcc lists tells even more of the story. Bit like real life really.
Good on you Matt Beaumont. Told straight, your book would have just been a bloody funny story about life at the advertising coalface. Wrapping it in a brilliantly crafted whole new genre takes it a long way beyond that. Amazonians; read and enjoy. Amazonians in advertising; make that a double and charge it to your favourite client.
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