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Lightning Rods - Helen DeWitt do you want to eliminate pesky sexual harassment lawsuits in the workplace?

why, install "lightning rods" service in your office to sate the inevitable urges of your top sales performers by giving them the opportunity for anonymous release! plus! you'll get extra use out of the disabled bathrooms! not to mention adequate office skills from a fine pool of temporary employees!

the protagonist of lightning rods is joe, a salesman who hits upon this business venture after failing to succeed in the door-to-door encyclopedia and vacuum games. he is certain the scheme will be a sure-fire money maker, deciding he can adapt his own sexual fantasies ("wall sex") to an enterprise he is sure will make him a success and solve the heartbreak of sexual harassment.

the novel is an old-fashioned satirical romp: i smirked and nicknamed it "the immodest proposal" as i read it. rather than baby food and famine, dewitt audaciously sets her sights on marketing, sales and sexual commerce in corporate culture. while the subject matter is salacious in that there is frank discussion of sex acts and masturbation it's not really smutty, like those books of nicholson baker's that can be VERY smutty. it actually reminded me more of [b:The Mezzanine|247000|The Mezzanine|Nicholson Baker|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1307064718s/247000.jpg|2340174]'s dispassionate and detailed voice. the enduring love of language shared by both authors consistently betrayed in their writing is also much in evidence.

barring that interest in language, lightning rods has less in common with dewitt's other novel, the much-admired [b:The Last Samurai|190372|The Last Samurai|Helen DeWitt|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348618641s/190372.jpg|376680]. here it is more pointed, and less studied, throughout one hears echoes from annual reports and other such business communiques. i did grow tired of her repeated use of the term "aggro" to describe the top-selling (white, straight, and male of course, since this is corporate america's ruling elite) salesmen who apparently have only two settings: rut or shill. does this betray my age? when did "aggro" replace "macho"? but hey, i dislike the usage of "resto" and "recco" as well, so maybe it's just a "o" thing.

lightning successfully channels dewitt's concentrated thumbing of her nose at the machine that runs the world not only in satire and language but also by populating her book with the caricatures of people who either use the service or work within it, people that one might recognize from any office: we all know lucilles, and renees, and elaines, the ed wilsons, and of course, the roys from HR. joe's lofty side business providing all kinds of ingenious and hilarious flush flourishes was a highlight in this fun satirical slight over-long fantasy that aptly displays dewitt's sense of humour and versatility. please ma'am, could i have some more?