Think Jane Austen for the corporate world

The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen

BOTTOM LINE: Jane Austen for the corporate world

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 22 May 2018
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“A fast, funny, deeply hilarious debut–The Glitch is the story of a high-profile, TED-talking, power-posing Silicon Valley CEO and mother of two who has it all under control, until a woman claiming to be a younger version of herself appears, causing a major glitch in her over-scheduled, over-staffed, over-worked life.

Shelley Stone, wife, mother, and CEO of the tech company Conch, is committed to living her most efficient life. She takes her ‘me time’ at 3:30 a.m. on the treadmill, power naps while waiting in line, schedules sex with her husband for when they are already changing clothes, and takes a men’s multivitamin because she refuses to participate in her own oppression.

But when she meets a young woman also named Shelley Stone who has the same exact scar on her shoulder, Shelley has to wonder: Is she finally buckling under all the pressure? Completely original, brainy, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Glitch introduces one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction and offers a riotous look into work, marriage, and motherhood in our absurd world.”

My Thoughts: The first thing to note about The Glitch is the fact that none of it will be remotely amusing unless you have spent time in the corporate world. If you have not done so, you just won’t get the story. Granted, Shelley will still be absurd in her mannerisms and thought processes, but anyone who has ever sat through any sort of corporate training will get many a chuckle about her pretentiousness whereas those who have not had the luxury will not get the absurdity.

The second thing to note about The Glitch is that it is a satire. Think Jane Austen but for the C-suite set. On the surface, nothing is amiss. Shelley seems perfectly normal in her musings, aspirations, and dedication to the various roles in her life. But just like in Austen’s novels, the truth is not what is on the surface but what remains unspoken throughout the story.

The best part about The Glitch is how it takes all the corporate self-help advice, the buzz words and trends, the various training exercises, and psychological expertise and destroys it in the name of common sense. It is a bit like playing corporate bingo with Shelley as a human bingo card that already has every space blacked out. There is something delightful in seeing every single trend about open concepts, empowering your staff, work-life balance, collaboration, etc. modeled by one character.

The corporate world is not the only place to feel the bite of Ms. Cohen’s wit. She also does something similar with raising children and the competitive area it has become. Through Shelley, Ms. Cohen’s portrayal of parenting in the wealthy and mostly white world is a far cry from children being ripped away from their parents and put into detention centers, and it has nothing in common with parents who cannot afford to feed their children or struggle making ends meet. Whereas her business style is amusing, her parenting style, and that of her husband, is so extreme that it is a whole lot of pretentious and a wee bit embarrassing.

Just as Jane Austen is not for everyone, The Glitch is a novel for a subset of readers. While I would like to think the satire is so obvious that anyone can enjoy it, I suspect that is not the case and that only those with experience in management and business will truly enjoy it. The thing is we need a novel like The Glitch. We need it to reevaluate our priorities and to recognize the ridiculousness of certain corporate measures. We need it because to take the corporate world seriously is to fuel your frustration at a system that seems to only benefit the top one percent. We need it to be able to laugh in a world where it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find things about which to laugh. Thankfully, no matter how crazy the world gets, there are certain things in parenting and in corporate America which will not change, and The Glitch is there the mock it all.

6 Responses to Think Jane Austen for the corporate world
  1. Sarah's Book Shelves
    June 27, 2018 | 6:25 AM

    I just tried this one and ended up DNFing. I thought it would be perfect for me since I spent the majority of my career in the corporate world working for big companies…but turns out I didn’t like reading about it (even satire). It sort of brought back all the reasons I left and I just didn’t want to spend more figurative time in that world.

    • Michelle
      June 30, 2018 | 5:01 PM

      I can see that. For my part, because I am still firmly entrenched in corporate America, I thought this book was spot on, and I enjoy taking comfort that I am not the only one to identify the idiocies of that world.

  2. Ti
    June 27, 2018 | 10:29 AM

    I remember when I left banking and how different it was when I entered the world of higher ed. It was like stepping into molasses. SO slow! I was twitchy for a good year. I think it’s good that you mentioned the corporate thing because although I feel like a lot of people have worked in a corporate environment, a quick survey of the moms on my block would tell you otherwise. I always thing I am the norm. Hahaha. So funny to think that.

    • Michelle
      June 30, 2018 | 5:04 PM

      Exactly. Oddly, most of my acquaintances, especially among the dance moms, are teachers or nurses. I think there is only one other mother from the team who works in the corporate world. Ironically, as I type this, we are both the only two mothers on our computers catching up on work while everyone else is at the pool. So that speaks volumes.

  3. Lisa
    July 13, 2018 | 5:07 PM

    I think I’ve had just enough corporate life to get this; certainly have sat through enough corporate training and meetings. If this is giving you an Austen vibe, then I’m definitely interested!

    • Michelle
      July 15, 2018 | 5:38 PM

      It has an Austen vibe only insofar as the satire in pretty much every sentence. Even the first line cracks me up, but if taken literally will really confuse people.

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