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Customer Service (Contemporary Art of the Novella)by Benoit Duteurtre
Synopses & Reviews
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In this devilish satire by one of France's most audacious social commentators, a man gets a state-of-the-art cellphone that, in spite of himself, he falls in love with. It really does seem as if it's going to make his life easier.
Except then he loses it. Luckily, he's a preferred customer, which is supposed to make it easy for him to get a replacement.
And so begins a long, fiendish descent down the rabbit hole known as "customer service." But our hero is determined to stay on the line...to outwit the phone menus...to outwait the hold muzak...to talk to the head of customer service, who wrote to him that all he needed to do was call, and he would be able to get bak that time-saving convenience that made his life so much simpler...
The Contemporary Art of the Novella series is designed to highlight work by major authors from around the world. In most instances, as with Imre Kertész, it showcases work never before published; in others, books are reprised that should never have gone out of print. It is intended that the series feature many well-known authors and some exciting new discoveries. And as with the original series, The Art of the Novella, each book is a beautifully packaged and inexpensive volume meant to celebrate the form and its practitioners.
"The unnamed narrator in Duteurtre's unrewardingly whiny novella has something to get off his chest — customer service in the computer age is, it seems, a shambles. Telephones are answered by machines, high school kids are technology gurus, airlines are inflexible, and don't even get him started on the trouble of remembering PINs and passwords. The ensuing 74-page rant takes this frustrated 40-something narrator through all of these experiences and more, as he riffs on all that is wrong with the world today while trying to finish a magazine assignment and change his cell phone plan. The thin plot involves the narrator trying to discover whether the cell phone company's director of customer service actually exists. The catalogue of frustrations will be familiar to everyone, but the many pages of grousing are not cathartic, funny or enlightening. It's like Andy Rooney wrote a French novella. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The enfant terrible of modernity."-Le Figaro
Plunged into his new telephone's customer service-with its circular menu options and bright-voiced automatons-the narrator slowly unravels.
Benot Duteurtre, winner of the Prix Medici, is the author of twelve novels translated into thirteen languages, including, most recently, The Little Girl and the Cigarette.
About the Author
An anarchic and controversial figure in France, Benoît Duteurtre became a writer after Samuel Beckett praised his early work. Duteurtre went on to write 10 novels and win the coveted Prix Medici, and has been acclaimed by Milan Kundera and media philosopher Guy Dubord alike. The great-grandson of French President René Coty, Duteurtre is also the host of his own TV talk show, “Astonish Me, Benoit." His work has been translated into thirteen languages. This is his first book to be translated into English.
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