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Book Description: Russell Wiley is in deep trouble. A media executive for the failing Daily Business Chronicle, his career is teetering on the brink of collapse, and his sexless marriage is fast approaching its expiration date. With his professional and personal lives floundering, it’s no wonder Russell is distracted, unhappy, and losing faith in himself. Making matters worse are his scheming boss, a hot-shot new consultant determined to see Russell ousted, and the beguiling colleague whose mere presence has a disconcerting effect on Russell’s starved libido. Disaster seems imminent…and that’s before he makes a careless mistake that could cost the paper millions. Russell realizes he must take drastic action if he is going to salvage his career, his love life, and what little remains of his self-respect. Sardonic, edgy, and true to life, this gripping novel offers an insider’s view into a newspaper's inner sanctum and the people who oil the wheels of the "old media" machine.
Richard Hine: I wanted to write a novel that captured the insecurity and befuddlement of life in the media business in recent years. Having worked in media and advertising for 20-plus years, it’s a world I know extremely well. At the same time, I wanted to tell a story that would connect on a broader level with readers who can relate to the idiocies of the corporate world and the challenges of modern relationships. Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch is set at a business newspaper, but it deals with themes and personal issues to which many readers can relate.
Question: How true a picture is this of the realities of the media business?
Richard Hine: I’ve spent most of my working life at Adweek, Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal. So in terms of the pressures, passions and politics you see inside traditional media companies, it’s very true. In addition, the novel also gives readers a window into a certain--I think important--moment in the history of media. It’s the moment when old media companies really started losing both their hold on their audiences and control of their business future. Setting the novel in the present tense in the recent past also allows for a little humor in those areas where today’s reader knows more than the characters about how things turn out for brands like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, as well as for the real-world newspaper and magazine brands that are mentioned, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today.
Question: What are the book’s big themes and issues?
Richard Hine: One of the central questions the book asks is: "Is the internet changing my life for better or for worse?" In Russell Wiley’s work life at the Daily Business Chronicle, the internet and all the new competition it creates is causing havoc. As Russell says at one point: "The internet is killing us. But nobody has a plan to do anything about it." Meanwhile, the internet is also transforming the way most individuals interact and connect--or in some cases re-connect--with others. Early on in the book, Russell’s wife subscribes to Classmates.com, which gives her a direct line back to the people she knew at a much simpler, less tense time in her life.
Another question the book asks is: "If someone has fallen out of love with you, what hope do you have of winning that love back?" At work, Russell’s challenge is to make newspapers seem sexy again to advertisers who have become enamored with new online opportunities. At home, the challenge is to compete against his wife’s perhaps idealized memory of a former sweetheart.
Equally important, the book also asks: "When all hope seems lost, do you roll over and accept defeat or summon up your resources and give it one last shot?" We live in challenging times and many people work in troubled industries. That can either lead to frustration and helplessness or it can spark new forms of creativity and invention. And the internet comes into play there, too.
Question: To whom do you think this novel will appeal most?
Richard Hine: Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch is for anyone who appreciates the absurdities of corporate life and the challenges of modern relationships. I’m a big fan of Nick Hornby and also of The Office. I’d be delighted if readers and viewers who enjoy such things would give my book a look.
This wry contemporary comedy — one part Glengarry Glen Ross and two parts Sophie Kinsella — will make readers cheer. Russell Wiley is Assistant Sales Director for one of a dying breed, The Daily Business Chronicle newspaper. Rumor says former shopping cart magnate Larry Ghosh (pronounced “gauche”), new owner of the media company that publishes the Chronicle, is going to dismantle the paper. Can Russell save his job, and the paper? Everything is against him, from the new consultant with his freshly minted MBA, suspenders, and files with neatly printed labels, to a distracting crush on a coworker (made worse by his current lack of a sex life and increasingly disinterested wife), to Cindy the office “deadweight” who manages to take credit for everything without doing any actual work. It’s time for Russell to take control. Along with the mistakes, betrayals, and inevitable sports metaphors (“swing for the fences,” “be the ball, stay in the zone”) come enough wins to outweigh the losses: proof that when the world goes mad, “the only sensible way to respond is by acting crazy.” A winner in every way. --This text refers to the manuscript reviewed as a part of the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.See all Editorial Reviews
First time reading a Richard Hine's book. I really enjoyed it. It moved along and the author brought you right into the character's feelings and frustrations and joys. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Helen Clare Grizzle
This read hit some notes close to my heart as a former employee of one of the 3-letter news networks. Read morePublished 3 months ago by B Hughes
Hilarious! Read it several X's & each X was better than the last:)Published 10 months ago by C. Disnute
I picked this book for a quick read with hopes of some laughs in between other endeavors. That's exactly what I got. Read morePublished 13 months ago by SheVandal
This book was so boring and convoluted that I finally just skipped to the end to discover 'who done what'. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kristine L. Soly
Little bit of a slow start but once you get in you can completely begin to relate to what Rissell is going through. Loved the ending and getting there. Fun read!Published 15 months ago by Joselind Rosten
I read this on my tablet on an airplane. It was a quick fun read. The main character is quite likable. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Richard K. Evans
Well paced storytelling with relatable characters. The happy ending of the story was a bit rushed after spending so many chapters laying out their suffering.Published 21 months ago by 13 year old boy
While you might think a comparison to "Office Space" or "The Office" (either version) or "Dilbert" would be apt since this is a workplace book, it's not really comedy. Read morePublished 21 months ago by PT Dilloway