The Learners: The Book After The Cheese Monkeys

Chip Kidd, Author . Scribner $26 (258p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5524-0

A sequel to book designer Kidd’s first novel, The Cheese Monkeys , this beautifully composed paean to pre-computer graphic design pitches recent graduate Happy (his nickname), now 21, into the mercantile halls of down-at-the-heels New Haven ad agency Spears, Rakoff and Ware. Kidd paints the agency with all the customary conventions of a mid-century office culture farce: lacquered secretaries, lunchtime scotches and broken-down businessmen. Happy wiles away his time in blissful drudgery until he fields a call for designing a tiny ad for a seemingly innocuous psychological study. The study is being run by (real-life psychologist) Stanley Milgram, and Happy is unable to resist volunteering; little surprise for readers that Happy finds himself a participant in Milgram’s notorious Obedience to Authority experiment, playing the role of “The Teacher” who is ordered to shock “The Learner” with near-lethal doses of electricity. Though character development is less the point than jokes about behaviorism and old school office culture’s last gasps, the experiment teaches Happy more than he ever hoped to know. The jokes are sometimes dippy, and some of the typographical pyrotechnics are on the twee side. But Kidd’s ebullience and generosity in unpacking the art and practice of graphic design carry the novel. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4332-3360-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4332-3364-7
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4332-7481-7
Paperback - 258 pages - 978-0-06-167324-5
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-84737-594-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-3361-6
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4165-6488-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-3363-0
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4332-3366-1
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