12/00 10:37 a.m.to: Readers
re: E: A Novel
Hi. A quick note before I have to get back to work. I just wanted to let you know about a new novel I read that's kind of quirky and stylish and funny. It's called E: A Novel. It's written by a British fellow named Matt Beaumont. He's a copywriter by trade and he's infatuated with e-mail. How infatuated, you may ask? Well, he wrote a whole novel using nothing but e-mail. No pesky narrative to get in the way. Just key strokes on a computer screen and off it goes. A novel is formed.
Uh-oh, my boss is coming around the corner. It's getting harder and harder to hide in these cubicles. She keeps wondering why I keep moving my computer screen further and further away from the aisle. So I can surf the net, Boss! Come on!
Well, I'll write more about it soon.
Oodles of Tootles,
12/00 10:43 a.m.to: Readers
re: My Boss is Gone! The Coast is Clear!
She wanted to see the reports I've been working on for her presentation tomorrow. I wonder if she'll notice that I spelled congratulations wrong just for fun.
Anyway, E: A Novel is an epistolary novel involving office shenanigans and corporate intrigue set in an ad agency filled with odd characters of all types. There are the CEO, the Creative Directors, secretaries, that weird guy in accounting who uses agency e-mail as a personal ad service --- everyone you'd find in a big office, sending e-mail every which way.
Shoot, she's back again. I think she found my careless mistake. I'll be back soon.
12/00 11:07 a.m.to: Reader
re: She Found Me Out
I was right. She's a smart one, my boss is. She corrected my spelling of congratulations. Just for some spice, I misspelled diorama on the next page. It'll be our little secret.
E: A Novel continues to unfold as the agency tries to land the creme de la creme of accounts, Coca-Cola. The story (again told through nothing but e-mail) shows the office politics, the cutthroat maneuvers, the back stabbing, the jokes, the taunts, the teases, the rants, and the raves like any e-mail does.
Would you want your boss knowing what you write in your e-mail each day? Probably not.
Did she find out that diorama is spelled wrong too? Hold on.
12/00 11:21 a.m.to: Reader
re: She's a Walking Dictionary, She Is
Okay, so she found out about diorama. But will she find the dangling participle? Ah-ha!
One problem I had with E: A Novel is that it's nothing but e-mail. Sure it's kind of entertaining to read for a while --- who wouldn't like to be an e-mail puppet master of sorts, reading personal e-mail at will? But a whole novel? I think it would work better as a short story. There are some good bits here and there, something to make you smile and quickly glance ahead to the response to the e-mail that made you smile; but E: A Novel is a little too hip, a little too cutting edge to be effective. The joke, the gag, the game wears a bit thin by the end.
Don't get me wrong, though. E: A Novel is an amusing read. It's like eating cotton candy for the brain --- light and fun.
There goes my boss. She has her briefcase with her presentation inside it. The board members are going to flip when they see that dangling participle just, well, dangling!
See You At the Bookstore,
Reviewed by Jonathan Shipley on October 3, 2000
E: A Novel