Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Every literary-minded person who has done time in corporate America thinks "One day, I am going to write a hilarious book about all this and it will have been all worth while." Every one of them. I am one of those people; I even have a spreadsheet somewhere of fake replacement names for former co-workers. But few, if any of us will write that book, and even if we do, most of those books will not be as funny and poignant as Dan Kennedy's tale of selling out to the mid-to-upper reaches of the record industry.
Dan bumbles through this impassable terrain with self-deprecating humor and a satirist's eye, but is right after the trip to the Home & Office section of Sacks 5th Avenue to buy over-priced tchotchkes for his new office when the heart of the book is revealed. He proclaims to his girlfriend, to himself, but really to the no-one listening that he wants to do this right. Quit drifting and give this sort of life an honest try.
He does. We all do, even when we can't believe we have become that person that can not only operate in that kind of environment, but for a while, thrive. This book would've been too painful to read in my early thirties, a little too close a mirror, even though Simon Le Bon never stood outside my cubicle opening, not even once.
It is hard to feel sorry for someone making as much money as presumably Dan was making at the time, and thankfully, he seeks no pity in his prose. He remains as "Be Here Now" as you can in Rockefeller Plaza, making commercials for Jewel and Phil Collins.
Maybe I'm projecting because I too was ejected from corporate life and forced to figure out how to freelance and find that creative voice that I was certain The Grind was grinding out of me, but this book nails that weird mix of acquiescence and triumph of finding your momentary niche in the grid. And he's a lot funnier about it than I ever was, which is an important strategy to remember.
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