Leslie Stella, Author FAT BALD JEFFLeslie Stella

Anyone who has worked in a cubicle will be drawn to this paean to the overworked, underpaid drone, but Stella's debut fails the performance evaluation. First, communication skills: it mistakenly employs a navel-gazing, deeply misanthropic heroine whose superficiality rivals that of Bridget Jones and Ally McBeal combined. By the time Addie Prewitt, a 26-year-old copy editor at the National Association of Libraries in Chicago, finds her narrative voice, this long short story is over. Second, teamwork: the characters are so over-the-top—from Addie's Deep Purple–loving roommate Val Wayne Newton to tech support co-worker Fat Bald Jeff—that they continually steal the spotlight, the equivalent here of throwing a stapler into the assembly line. Third, productivity: more than two-thirds of the book passes before Addie takes decisive action. She and Jeff pool their respective writing and programming talents to get back at the slimeball management. Their naughty rebellion and the chaos it inspires are the strongest plotlines; unfortunately, Stella insists on dragging Addie back to her sentimental family troubles, which do not have any direct bearing on the final outcome. Fourth, follow-through: Addie's relationship to her hippie parents is like a quilt; every now and then she offers a new patch of history, but by story's end, it looks like the emperor's new clothes. And as for her sugar-daddy boyfriend (the obviously named Martin Lemming), he is a transparent plot device, not a fully developed character. All of these problems could have been more easily overlooked if the promised humor was sure and natural, but instead it is inconsistent and forced. The best bookmark for this novel is a pink slip. Agent, Amye Dyer. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/26/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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