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Lightning Rods Hardcover – October 5, 2011
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“She also lampoons the pabulum of business motivational books and the pieties of CEO memoirs in a book that is consistently funny in its stomach-turning way. (In her acknowledgments, Ms. DeWitt thanks the person who introduced her to .) The key to her satire is a disdain for the business world expressed with such purity that it achieves a sort of euphoria.” — The Wall Street Journal
“Standing athwart the arc of literary history — uninterested in sugarcoating her interest in complex systems — DeWitt is among those novelists who long for a return to formality, who dream of constructing beautiful, new, arbitrary systems. She wants to tell us all about them. She thinks her readers might enjoy working their brains a bit. DeWitt delights in language not just as a means to communicate but as a complicated game whose rules she might plumb and master.” — Los Angeles Times
“This is excellent: cold and crazy...The jokes are like hammers.” — New Yorker
“ made DeWitt a household name for its audacity; , written a decade before , inverts the Willy Loman myth by giving us a salesman with a sexual fantasy instead of a dream, who succeeds in selling his own personal kink as the solution to workplace sexual harassment.” — The Boston Globe
“This is a perfect example of DeWitt’s uncanny ability to put her finger on the pulse of our many contemporary neuroses and anxieties — about sex, race, disability, and whatnot... DeWitt is not interested in being a moralist; this is not a comedy of correction... like Nabokov’s Humbert trying to convince us of the allure of a pubescent girl, it’s also scarily persuasive.” — Morten Høi Jensen (Open Letters Monthly)
“Delivered with a teeth-baring grin, DeWitt’s book is a powerful corrective for any reader who believes America has moved beyond paternalism and achieved real gender equality.” — Ploughshares
“Intelligent, funny, and absurd, critiques contemporary perspectives on sex, capitalist logic, and the workplace.” — Critical Mob
“Satire and comedy traditionally have the advantage of allowing an author to develop ridiculous premises to absurd lengths, and DeWitt follows the logic of her premise all the way. She winks at her reader here and there but mostly adopts a mock earnest tone, which is a shrewd move. Her many cliché-ridden passages justifying the Lightning Rods are argued with such force and conviction, the reader begins to envision certain real-world businesses giving the green light to such a project. The result is a book that manages to be titillating and breezy even as it hides a clusterbomb of social commentary under its glittering, aphoristic surface.” — Rain Taxi
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Top Customer Reviews
The men in this book are all push-overs who think primarily through their little brains, and the women tend to be tough cookies, cool and calculating, highly organized, detail-centric, in search of a leg up (forgive the pun -- they all go on to "swan" their ways into Harvard Law School, become millionaires and Supreme Court Justices, it seems). The prose is as pleasant and straightforward as the characters molded by it.
A study of baboons in captivity has found that those given the kind of release Lightning Rods provides (the book, not the service) will be more productive and efficient in the workplace, calmer and more at ease in their personal lives. Don't listen to me: go with the baboons, buy this book. You won't be disappointed.
This book definitely falls into the category of fiction in which the narrator's thought process is paramount to the plot itself. Truly, the reader experiences this book from within the deepest machinations of Joe's brain, privy to each synaptic connection as instantly as it occurs. DeWitt reveals herself as a great rhetorician in this, her latest, novel. Her exploration of the brain's capacity to rationalize (failure, moral compromise, personal shortcomings) is not only believable but poignant due to the intimate perspective the reader is allowed.
"One day, you're going to wake up and find you sold away the only life you were ever going to get for the sake of the bottom line. Well, there's only so much money you can spend in this life, and the thing you've got to remember is, the one thing you can't buy back, no matter how much money you have, is time. A billion dollars won't buy back one single minute." (238)
"Lightning Rods" reminds me of Nicholson Baker's "Vox" or "Fermata," with all of its sexual quirkiness, but overall it is more notably an intellectual look at how physical drive plays a part (or not) in the American vision of success. Through the lens of one man's fantasies, DeWitt has created a complex commentary on American culture that touches on topics of gender, race and economic status, to name a few. Moreover, the characters are frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious, a difficult feat in a book so rife with intricate thought processes. So glad I started the New Year with this fantastic read!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Helen Dewitt is one of my favorite authors, I only wish she were more prolific. This book is inventive, surprising, and funny. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kyle Pfister
Caught me totally off guard but the tone and the story—dealing with a subject that should come across as totally juvenile—but ended up both being a pretty great social commentary... Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. Kopeny
Amazingly funny novel. A satire on men's thoughts, actions and aggressiveness. Not all men will like it.Published 11 months ago by V. Vijay Kumar
While I found the concept interesting, the book didn't hold my interest.Published 13 months ago by J MacB
Sorry, this book is not good. Repetative, trite, unfunny. I forced myself to read it to the end. Not worth it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jessica Grisham
It started out ok, but quickly lost steam, the author inserted long monologues of in interesting stuff, I wonder how it can be a award winner!Published 18 months ago by kaushal mehta
I took a long time to read it, as it just didn't grab me. There wasn't enough to make me want to know what happened next. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Helen Kingsley
this should have been a short story. it runs out of gas very early on and never cashes in on what was a pretty funny premise.Published on November 22, 2013 by anthony moore
A lighter hearted read than The Last Samurai, this book is a naughty comedy which attempts to deal with the repression of sexuality in our workplaces. Read morePublished on November 14, 2013 by E.Mai