Lightning Rods (Hardcover)
December 2011 Indie Next List
“Joe, an out of work encyclopedia salesman, has a lot of ideas. Most are useless, but he stumbles upon a solution to the problem of sexual harassment and low productivity in the workplace. His unconventional idea is an immediate hit for corporate offices, but Joe is then forced to take on the stigma of being very successful at something that is revolting to most. Reminiscent of the writings of both Shteyngart and Palahniuk, Lightning Rods avoids pretention by being bizarrely funny and satisfyingly sardonic.”
— Rachel Haisley, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT
All I want is to be a success. That's all I ask. Joe fails to sell a single set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in six months. Then fails to sell a single Electrolux and must eat 126 pieces of homemade pie, served up by his would-be customers who feel sorry for him. Holed up in his trailer, Joe finds an outlet for his frustrations in a series of ingenious sexual fantasies, and at last strikes gold. His brainstorm, Lightning Rods, Inc., will take Joe to the very top and to the very heart of corporate insanity with an outrageous solution to the spectre of sexual harassment in the modern office. An uproarious, hard-boiled modern fable of corporate life, sex, and race in America, Helen DeWitt's Lightning Rods brims with the satiric energy of Nathanael West and the philosophic import of an Aristophanic comedy of ideas. Her wild yarn is second cousin to the spirit of Mel Brooks and the hilarious reality-blurring of Being John Malkovich. Dewitt continues to take the novel into new realms of storytelling as the timeliness of Lightning Rods crosses over into timelessness.
About the Author
Helen DeWitt is the author of a remarkable first novel (Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Review of Books), The Last Samurai, which has been translated into twenty languages. She lives in Berlin.