There’s not much time left in the summer, but if you’re at the beach and scoping out something business-related to read, this looks like a good pick. Noted author and psychiatrist Robert Coles and former Doubletake editor Albert LaForge have edited a collection of literary stories about work and business, “Minding the Store,” which has inclusions ranging from Tolstoy to John Cheever. In the Wall Street Journal’s review yesterday, the description of an excerpt from Joseph Heller’s paradoxical “Something Happened,” called “The Office in Which I Work,” sounds like it could have come from a cube near you today. “In it,” reviewer Saul Rosenberg writes, “we read of a paranoid office pyramid at the top of which sit the salesman, ‘a vigorous, fun-loving bunch when they are not suffering abdominal cramps or brooding miserably about the future.’ “
Coles comes to the subject of the book, one would suppose, from the course on business and ethics he taught briefly at Harvard Business School. I’m guessing he used some of the excerpts in the book, which includes John O’Hara’s story of an embezzler who kills himself after being fired, in the course of teaching the class. With all the dreck on business book shelves today, Minding the Store appears to be a welcome relief and different lens for business lessons.
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