e squared by Matt Beaumont

e squared is the story of just over a month in the offices of Meerkat360, a very ‘cutting edge’ advertising agency in London.  It’s told entirely through the emails, text messages, MSN conversations and blogs of various members of staff, with the odd news article included.

Some of the main characters are David Crutton (‘The Man’, who really would prefer to be called by his proper job title of Managing Director); his long suffering wife Janice; Ted Berry (‘MC Ideaz’, head of the creative department); Liam O’Keefe, member of the creative department team, who is heavily in debt, deeply offensive (and funny) and descending into bankruptcy; and Harvey Harvey, Dr Who fanatic who is so naive that he responds to spam mail.

Because of the style in which the story is told, the reader is fed bits and pieces which fit together to form complete pictures of what is happening.  Most of the characters are caricatures, but they have elements of their personalities which everyone who has ever worked in an office environment will surely recognise.

Some of the main stories include Liam’s money and relationship problems, David’s marriage problems, some very trivial gossip between Suzi Judge-Davis-Gaultier and Milton Keane (two PAs at the company) and the company’s attempt to produce a cigarette campaign promoting the product as a healthy addition to anyone’s lifestyle.

Perhaps due to the fact that we only get to know the characters through their electronic communications, it’s sometimes hard to empathise with them.  However I did warm to the characters of Harvey Harvey and Liam.  I also liked David’s long suffering assistant Dotty, who was incredibly dense, but very sweet.  Suzi and Milton were irritating beyond belief, although this was presumably intentional.

The book certainly made me dissolve into giggles on several occasions.  Some parts were completely outlandish, but that didn’t bother me – after all, it is satire.

The only sections of the book that didn’t really work for me were the blog posts by ‘Hornblower’.  This man turned out to be a former colleague of some of the characters, who has now moved to France and blogs with extreme pomposity about his new life there.

Overall though, a very funny and enjoyable read.

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