Helen DeWitt’s second novel Lightning Rods uses a unique device in both literary and corporate office furniture terms. Her protagonist Joe, a failing door to door salesman decides, through analysis of his sexual fantasies, on a cure for sexual harrassment in the workplace.

Helen DeWitt sells us an idea, the absurdity and humour of which will be difficult to erase from the mind of anyone working in a large office. Joe does the same and even manages to sell the antidote to his successful big idea.

At once  a didactic self help manual for rising businessmen interspersed with useful aphorisms and observations and  a satire on contemporary sales and marketing; I would class Lightning Rods alongside Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 although the “catch” in this is no more than that on a toilet cubicle door!

Philip Maltman

And Other Stories/paperback/£10.00/9781908276117

Published on October 1st 2012