e (also known as e: The Novel of Liars, Lunch and Lost Knickers) is the debut novel from former copywriter Matt Beaumont. Published in 2000, it’s distinctive for constructing its narrative solely through the emails sent between employees at the (fictional) top advertising agency Miller Shanks in London.
It’s basically a savage indictment of the corporate world and human weaknesses; the staff bicker, fight, procrastinate, and cause issues which delay projects and cause complete mayhem during the build-up to a sales pitch for Coca-Cola. Simply put, the book’s hilarious. By jove!
Matt Beaumont’s e
We’ll reiterate – all you’re going to read here are emails. The novel’s constructed cleverly and the narrative builds based on the different writing styles, and characteristics, of Miller Shank’s employees. Most of whom, incidentally, you’ll come to enjoy mocking for their abject stupidity and narcissism.
What powers the book along is the diverse range of individuals you meet. We have the likes of the big boss David Crutton (foul-mouthed, lecherous, and borderline incompetent – he’s also disturbingly inept with computers), Simon Horne (an unbelievably pretentious Creative Director), Horne’s moronic and high maintenance PA Susi Judge-Davis, blokey blokes Liam O’Keefe and Topowlski, and the creative hippy Pinky.
In the book, Miller Shanks is eager to win the pitch for Coca-Cola with a daring idea made by the aging (and hopelessly out of touch with reality) Horne. In the meantime, CEO Crutton is inadvertently copying Miller Shank’s Finnish CEO Pertti van Helden into all of his emails. The latter believes this to be a bonding exercise and responds with great cheer and profundity, outraging Crutton and leading to endless fits of profanity.
With all this in mind, the novel’s essentially a catalogue of disasters and bizarre triumphs. The advertising world is hectic, weird, and not particularly wonderful; bad pitches can win major campaigns, and brilliant ideas are often squandered. What Beaumont does is showcase this in a highly entertaining, frequently hilarious tome which makes for fantastic light reading. Groovy!
Legacy: Digital Malarkey
The online revolution has created an influx of jobs in the form of online marketing. This has been highly useful for younger generations who have come out of university to find obtaining work almost impossible. Mr. Wapojif, who first read the novel back in 2000, figured he could one day end up in advertising as well… instead he’s the editor of Professional Moron. Bwahahahaah!
Beaumont’s novel hacked wildly at the relatively new concept of emails. Back in 2000, emails were pretty radical and everyone was getting used to this new computer technology and ditching the pen and pencil. Of course now we all have social media and smartphones, and emails are potentially facing a decline. Should we lose emails, may e stand as a reminder to how fun they can be. Innit.