by Lucy Kellaway.
While on the plane from Phoenix to Newark the other day, I read Who Moved My Blackberry? by Lucy Kellaway. It was a quick read, primarily because the entire book was written as a series of e-mail messages, most of which were from the main character, Martin Lukes.
It was a great example of the writer’s principle of “show, don’t tell.” By reading Martin’s outgoing messages and a handful of incoming messages he received from others, I got an excellent idea of what Martin was like. He’s full of himself, a chauvinist, not too bright, overweight, a bit lazy, somewhat manipulative, and not very honest to the people around him — or himself. After the first 25 or so pages, was used to the writing style or e-mail as a storytelling device. As amazing as it may seem, the e-mail messages moved a definite story forward, with multiple plot lines. What’s even funnier, however, is that by reading Martin’s answers to e-mail messages he received that weren’t in the book, I knew what other people were thinking about him and got a pretty good idea of what they’d written.
The book is also a look at the corporate culture. Although the book takes place primarily in Martin’s workplace at a multinational corporation, it’s impossible to know what the company does or sells. Martin, a marketing executive, is mostly concerned with corporate branding and public relations. But even though the reader never learns what his company does all over the world, it doesn’t matter. And I think that says a lot for today’s corporations. A lot of the employees are just glorified paper-shufflers that could be working for any company selling any product or service.
The book was very good and I highly recommend it. I left it at my brother’s house for my sister-in-law, who works in Human Resources, to read. I think she’ll be able to identify with what goes on between the lines of all those e-mail messages.
Looking for a fun read? Give Who Moved My Blackberry? a try.