Picks and Pans Review: The Real World

UPDATED 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Christopher Knowlton

"Little of the studying Caleb had done in college—certainly none of the great books he had read-had prepared him for the corporate world. The works of Homer and Thucydides, of Plato and Aristotle, had no direct bearing on a job in business." The hero of this first novel is a young college graduate who gets a job with a big Park Avenue management-consulting firm because an executive there knows his father. From the beginning he is in over his head. The office is full of cutthroat tension, with an overlay of prissy, uptight, frightened behavior—an utterly joyless world. The hero's job is elaborate, complex, difficult—and ultimately irrelevant. The idea for this book is a good one, and all the details seem right. There are, however, a couple of problems. If The Real World is to be believed, the corporate world is unendurably boring, and some of that quality makes reading the novel tedious at times. Second, the author gives too much exposition when the reader wants action. The Real World is well worth reading though. It provides a strong, provocative image of corporate America as seen by an observant 28-year-old writer who was once in management consulting and has seen it for himself. (Atheneum, $15.95)

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