THE WAGES OF GENIUS

Gregory Mone, Author . Carroll & Graf $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1136-9

Mone's sardonic debut novel is a curious hybrid, a coming-of-age–cum–business novel that begins when a young man who believes himself to be the second coming of Albert Einstein takes a job with a high-flying dot-com at the height of the Internet boom. Edward is the naïve first-person narrator and would-be genius who tracks his intellectual development by comparing his ideas to Einstein's in a series of cheeky opening chapters. After bypassing the traditional educational system, Edward lands a job with an e-business company called Global Leading Edge E-Business Solutions, or Gleebs for short. Never mind his lack of discernible skills—the company's entrepreneurial CEO quickly gives Edward the title of general analyst and charges him to help "advance our study of nothing." Edward succeeds remarkably well, coming up with several fluffy, conceptual projects that mirror Einstein's ideas but do next to nothing for the company. When the dot-com bubble begins to deflate, Edward's lack of productivity is noticed by his fellow employees and the company's venture capitalist, who does a one-on-one interview with Edward that reveals his total lack of tangible duties. The combination of the business parody and Edward's sly Einstein parallels make for a heady blend in the early going, but unfortunately Mone is hard-pressed to maintain his inventive conceit in the second half as the prose unravels into a patchwork of hackneyed, clumsy scenes when the company begins to bottom out. Mone is a solid writer with a flair for satire and a nice touch in his understated characterizations, but like the dot-com boom that frames his narrative, he lacks the staying power here to close out a promising idea. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/19/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 268 pages - 978-0-7867-1327-1
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