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If I Were Boss: The Early Business Stories of Sinclair Lewis Paperback – November 3, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Di Renzo’s superbly written introduction seamlessly integrates literary analysis with social-history research and impressive knowledge of marketing and advertising techniques of Lewis’s times. [This is a] refreshing and entertaining group of satires that have much relevance in today’s culture."—James M. Hutchisson, author of The Rise of Sinclair Lewis, 1920–1930

About the Author

Anthony Di Renzo knows the business world far more intimately than most academics. A fugitive from advertising, he has worked as a copywriter, press agent, commercial artist, announcer, and corporate communications consultant. Currently he teaches professional writing and American business history at Ithaca College. His American Gargoyles: Flannery O’Connor and the Medieval Grotesque is available from Southern Illinois University Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (November 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809321394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809321391
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you made a short list of notable literary efforts from America's first Nobel Prize in Literature winner, the inestimable Sinclair Lewis, titles such as "Main Street," "Babbitt," and "Elmer Gantry" would probably sit near the top. More discerning fans of the master satirist might throw in "Dodsworth," "It Can't Happen Here," and "Kingsblood Royal." What you wouldn't find anywhere on this speculative list are the short stories between the pages of "If I Were Boss: The Early Business Stories of Sinclair Lewis." Why? According to the intricate yet astoundingly informative introduction by Anthony Di Renzo, none of the fifteen stories contained in the anthology have been republished since their original appearance between the years 1915-1921 in magazines like "The Saturday Evening Post." If you stagger under the knowledge that works of a Nobel Prize winner have been out of print that long, you'll really have a fit once you read this collection. Every one of the tales in this book is wonderful. Everything you know about Lewis-his scathing wit, his boundless cynicism tempered with a secret hope for the triumph of humanity, his spot on ability to recreate the American vernacular-infuses every page of every story.

If I had to pick a specific story as my personal favorite, I would pick the four stories that make up what is the Lancelot Todd cycle. Lewis spent many years of his life working in advertising, loathed the profession, and promptly took his revenge with stories like "Snappy Display," "Slip It to 'Em," "Getting His Bit," and "Jazz." These four tales document the unsavory career of Lancelot Todd, America's premier advertising guru and an unbridled charlatan.
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Format: Paperback
While I have enjoyed Lewis's novels, I have also found them to be somewhat angry and bitter. These stories are a different matter. Several of them are uproariously funny, in many ways reminiscent of Ring Lardner's best, where the outrage is hidden behind a mask of humor.
The introduction provides an interesting background in terms of both America's history and the events of Lewis's own life.
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By A Customer on March 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
Lewis' early magazine pieces, printed here for the first time since their original publication in 1915-23, unmistakably contain the seeds of his later Pulitzer Prize-winning satirical novels and are irresistible in their own right.
The language is dated, and the modern reader may find some usage jarring (e.g., "love-making" for what we might call "flirting"), but it is remarkable in this postmodern age of Dilbert and e-mail that so little has changed in human nature, especially as expressed in office romances and politics. Look closely and you may see in some of Lewis' hucksters someone looking back at you; someone uncomfortably familiar.
(P)

(The "score" rating is an ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)
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Format: Paperback
I was surprised at how relevant the stories were to the current times. Despite being written between 1915 and the early 1920's, workers ( and employers ) were faced with problems of sexual harrasment, boredom, stealing employees, and office politics.
Definately, you can detect parts of Babbit in many of the characters in the book.
All of the stories were worth reading. Some are amusing, some sad, and a few happy. All of them, however are thought provoking.
Overall, a great book to get a hold of, especially if you are a Sinclair Lewis fan.
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Format: Paperback
"Honestly, if Possible" may quite possibly be the most wonderful short story I've ever read. Like other newer Sinclair readers, I'm amazed with the currency of all his work, and even more amazed that he isn't more widely known. I'm doing my best to get the story out-I've got a lot of PEP!
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