cover image The Chronicles of Doodah

The Chronicles of Doodah

George Lee Walker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16.45 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-395-38174-8

This novel's narrator (who appropriately remains nameless throughout) works in the public relations department of a large, unnamed Company, located in a nondescript building in a suburb of a decaying city. As a speechwriter for the Company bigwigs, he must, day after day, find new ways to say the same old thing, new ways to say nothing. Along with his friend Conrad, the hero manages to keep a somewhat sane perspective on the Company, despite the fact that ""psychological lobotomies'' are encouraged by the top executives, to whom ``expressionless faces, flat voices, sycophantic smiles, and shuffling gait are a source of deep and unending pleasure.'' But it is the beginning of the end of the narrator's humanity (and the start of his meteoric rise in the corporate hierarchy) when he is recruited to participate in the Troubled Employee Department's rigorous executive shape-up program. Walker, who has been a speechwriter for a number of corporate and political luminaries, writes in an effective deadpan style, developing a clever idea into a novel that is at once extremely funny and alarming. January 16