“Here’s your Coke,” she said at last, spilling some of it as she handed it to me. I sighed. Harry seemed not to notice. I bent the straw and slipped it into the cup and watched him drink. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, making it very clear to him that I would be right back.
NAVIGATING THE MIND FIELDS OF FAMILY, LOVE AND ADVERTISING
The 21st-century business novel has arrived. “I’ve often wondered why there aren’t more strong works of fiction dealing with the business world,” mused New York Times reviewer Bryan Burrough in a recent column he wrote for, Off the Shelf. Steven C. Eisner heeds Burrough’s call as he shares the champagne victories and bitter-grape defeats of life in advertising, based in part on his own experiences, in his new novel THEMINEFIELDS (When Words Count Press, March 13, 2012).
Situated smack between the cigarette-and-martini days of Mad Men and the nihilism of House of Lies, Eisner paints a classic roman a clef in stinging detail. Protagonist Sam Spiegel is the Golden Boy with the New York business world at his feet when he is called home to Philadelphia just as he has begun to make his mark. His father, Holocaust survivor Harry Spiegel, is ailing and it’s with reservations that Sam takes on the challenge to grow his father’s firm, Spiegel Communications, into national prominence. The complex themes of the father-and-son relationship, like those found in the works of Chaim Potok and Mario Puzo, are brought vividly to life as Sam and Harry battle over the future of the family legacy.
Following Harry’s death, Sam and his wife and partner, Amy, are determined to create a firm as profitable as it is admired. They agree to hire a financial pit bull as their chief executive officer and an award-winning creative director who had trained under Sam’s own mentor. Before long, Sam realizes that this team of high-priced talent has their own agenda.
Sam’s swift ascent and eventual fall mirrors the events of the author’s life when his homegrown agency, Eisner Communications, fell into serious trouble just weeks after being named the most creative mid-sized advertising agency in America. “The field is precarious by nature – one day you’re up in the clouds and the next the same account can cause you to crash,” says Eisner.
Eisner reveals an insider’s knowledge of the world of advertising in the 1980s and ‘90s, including the Art of the Sell and the Baby Boomer philosophy of play now, pay later that foreshadowed our current economic woes. Sam must reach into his core and connect to his father’s wisdom on survival as he learns that some of his most bitter enemies lie within his own business – and family. Candid, colorful and tinged with humor, this is the business fiction readers have been waiting for.
Overall, I found this book to be quite enjoyable. I have never watched the TV show Mad Men but now knowing that this book was influenced by that show, I may need to check it out. It was an easy book to get into that grabbed my attention and was a quick read.
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Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book at no cost to me in exchange for my complete and honest review All thoughts and opinions are my own.