I picked this book up at my friend Tina’s independent bookstore in Neenah, Wisconsin (home of the late lamented and dearly loved Annaboo-Bookstore Kitty).
The book appealed to me on that same guilty pleasure level one feels when a high school friend e-mails that she has news of your ex: he’s fat and just lost his job and moved back in with his parents. That kind of thing.
21 Dog Years isn’t so much kiss and tell as kiss and punch. Daisey, a stand-up comic, leaves very little to the imagination on how weird it was to work for Amazon in the late 1990s. And how little respect he has for the company. So of course I loved it. :]
But beyond that, Daisey has a unique way of cramming too many words into a sentence; this makes you read them in a kind of fascinated concentration with the way he writes. His constructions are magnificent. Perhaps too magnificent, as the book (which is sold on Amazon – HA!) has been described as “truthy” at best. It’s a combination of monologue, wishful thinking, and things nobody says aloud. It’s not all factual, but oh so much of it is accurate.
His timing is a little strange, and that’s saying something for a stand-up comic, I suppose. You can’t always tell WHEN he is in his book, or sometimes what he’s talking about in specifics, but clearly coming through are the feelings of frustration and workaholic dedication for no reason to someone and something that isn’t dedicated to you. And you get some really, really funny vignettes. It’s easy to tell this book grew from a comedy show.
Then, in the last few chapters, all the vignettes and snarky comments and fun “take THAT ya bastard” humor hits its stride–like watching Stephen Colbert take down a pontificating guest so well, the guest doesn’t even know he’s being done. Daisey nails the twenty-first century work ethic, the Rise of Big Corporations, and a few other things about being a wage slave that just sing. He writes emails to Jeff Bezos (never sent) that ask such good questions, you long for a response. “What’s the line between irrational exuberance and fraud? (pg 170)” “Would it have been so hard to build a cool and quirky bookstore instead of a soulless virtual megamall? (pg 208)”
Those who like humor close to the white-hot fire of “Hey, that’s not funny” truthiness and sarcasm rapier-sharp–not to mention those of us sick to death of Bigger is Better B.S.–will enjoy Daisey’s take on life behind the walls of Corporatedotcom.
PS If you’re interested, here’s a rebuttal about Daisey: http://gawker.com/5894525/what-else-has-mike-daisey-lied-about