Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: "The Pursuit of Other Interests" by Jim Kokoris

Charlie Baker has it all. He's the award-winning managing director of a major Chicago advertising agency, gets driven to and from work by a car service, and has an enormous house in the suburbs with a loving wife and teenage son. Or so it appears, until Charlie is unceremoniously fired, and he discovers that his life isn't nearly as secure and wonderful as he thinks. His wife resents his never being home and missing everything in his son's life, and his son doesn't know what to think.

After his initial collapse and downward spiral, to pass the time (and to avoid initially telling his wife he was fired), he spends his days in an outplacement center, alongside of a number of other executives that have lost their jobs. His mentor at the center, Ned, hopes to break through Charlie's shell, while Charlie mentors Ned a bit as well. Charlie tries to break through to his wife and son, and find out where their lives went wrong, while at the same time he wants to get back to the life he's used to, even if it might not be the best solution.

I really didn't like this book. Every review I've seen seems to praise it, but I found Charlie's character completely stereotypical and really unlikeable. I realize his transformation is accurate, but I found him so unsufferable I was unable to muster any sympathy for the situation in which he found himself. His "breakdowns" were supposed to be humorous but I found them annoying. And I felt as if I could see the book's conclusion coming from a mile away. Oh well...

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