So in this scene, a guy sees the regular beggar outside of his office building and becomes incensed:
“Do something! He had wanted to scream at the bum. He was close to rolling down the window and doing just that. H was offended that the man just sat there for his money. Other bums had positioned themselves. They had brands. “Vietnam Vet with AIDS.” “Unemployed Mother of Three.” “Trying to Get Back to Cleveland.” This guy had nothing – no words on a piece of cardboard, not even a dog or some bongos. For some reason it infuriated Carl.”
Beside the humor, there’s another reason to remember this book. It’s written in first-person plural. Yes. “We.” And not the royal we. It’s the collective “we.” All the folks in the office. So at one point, when we are introduced to Benny, we are told something like, “All of us loved Benny. Which was why some of us hated him.” And that made perfect sense.
In it’s own way, the book is as ground-breaking as Bright Lights, Big City, with it’s memorable and inimitable (because you would just look sycophantic imitating it) use of the second person, ie, “You are not the kind of guy who would normally be doing this.”
There’s a downside to all this creativity, though, and that’s there is really no one person to root for. And the story question seems to be “Will the ad agency survive?” which is not quite the same as “Will Benny survive?” or “Will Carl survive?” even though they are both part of the equation.
I’ve blogged about this book before – here’s one of my posts.