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Brit Lit Wit

PenswordBefore my first book, Race Through The Forest, was published last year, a colleague gave me a good-natured ribbing by telling me that I would not be considered a real author until I had been panned by some snooty British critic.  Well, I guess I've become a real author.

John Naish of the UK-based "newspaper" The Times wrote a rather scathing (albeit highly amusing) review of GUST - The "Tale" Wind of Office Politics.  What makes it amusing is that his only premise of criticism is the animal comparisons that I make (snake, ostrich, bear), which altogether comprise less than 5% of the content of the book.  While I would never come right out and accuse Mr. Naish or The Times of lacking the journalistic integrity it takes to read a book before reviewing it (my wife's high school students know better than that, so I'm assuming a so-called journalist would as well), he certainly leaves open the perception that he merely Googled the Register article and thought he could turn around a quick writing assignment without much effort.

But enough of his writing and researching skills, I really enjoyed his snarky ramblings about using animals to prove a point.  I'm sure he'll be picking on George Orwell or Beatrix Potter next.  Imagine their nerve, using whole entire animal farms and cute little bunny rabbits to drive home the moral of the story.  As Mr. Naish deftly points out:

It’s a shame he stops at three. How about the corporate flatfish? They’re usually beige, floundering, with eyes extremely close together. It’s easy to walk on them without even knowing. Or the workplace llama. Cute-looking, apparently harmless and very woolly, they are equipped with three sets of fighting teeth designed to rip off rivals’ genitals when things get rough.

And what of the office gazebo? Oh. Sorry, that’s a different management-book concept entirely: is your boss a well-known garden structure archetype?

Besides the animal critique, there was one other sentence in his short review which I found most entertaining of all:

Rivalry is always intense for the accolade of worst-named business book of the year, but I know which one my money’s on.

So here is where I want your input, my fun-loving readers.  I have two contests in which I would like your participation:

  1. Besides animals and garden structure archetypes, what analogy would you have used to help people understand office politics?
  2. What would you have named a business fable about office politics?

The person who can come up with the most ludicrous, most outlandish alternative idea that I could have used for my book that would have really set Mr. Naish on edge wins a free autographed copy.  One winner for each category.  Entries are due next Monday, June 4 at 11:59 PM CDT.  Mr. Naish can even play, too, if he wants.  But he's already done enough; thanks to him, I'm now a "real author."

P.S.  I did leave him a comment on the article already, thanking him for the publicity and inviting him to call me for an interview once he's had a chance to read the book.


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» "Create Your Own Title" Contest from Straight from the Barrel...
Tim Johnson has a terrific contest going on through June 4th. I'd explain it, but it's too funny to ruin it with explanations. I've already entered several times. Check it out here: http://carpefactum.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/05/brit_lit_wit.html... [Read More]


Mike Sansone

A title for the sequel: "It's All Happening at the CoZoo"

A subtitle: 'Would you believe it? Believe it's GUST Part Deux'

Liz Strauss

I so like how you handled it, i.e. the PS. YEA for you!

Tom Haskins

Congrats on becoming "a real author", even if the carpe factum took a run-in with a real curmudgeon :-)

I see many parallels between office politics and corporate rivalries. So when I've taught office politics, I compare the characters involved to bureaucracies, factories, service providers and learning organizations. Those then get equated with
with chum(shark bait), sharks, dolphins and the ocean.



Tim -- As you know I loved your book and the animal archetypes. There is such a rich history of animals in literature -- Animal Farm has been one of my favorites for years. One of the reasons animals work so well is that authors can speak the truth while avoiding the landmines of sexism, racism, ageism -- and pretty much all the 'isms' you can think of. Keep up the great writing.

Timothy Johnson

Mike - thanks for the contribution... you're currently in the lead!

Liz and Tom and Franke - thanks for the words of encouragement. I'm not going to let one hack writer keep me down.

EM Sky

Analogy: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Title: "GUST: The Happy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy Understand-Your-Coworkers-So-You-Can-Get-Promoted Medicine"

Oops... I mean "Book"

EM Sky

Analogy: Lord of the Rings Characters

Title: "GUST, an Ill Wind from Mount Doom: Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits in the Fellowship of Profit"

EM Sky

Analogy: Star Wars characters (Jedi, Sith Lords, Clone Troopers)

Title: "Episode VII, the Revenge of the Trade Federation: Avoiding the Dark Side of Office Politics"

EM Sky

Alternative Titles & Variations, each to include the subtitle "a Corporate Fable of Office Politics."

1. "Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy: a Corporate Fable of Office Politics"

2. "Prince Charming and the Hidden Agenda: a Corporate Fable of Office Politics"

3. "Poison Apples, Enchanted Needles: a Corporate Fable of Office Politics"

4. "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Is Anybody Nice at All? (A Corporate Fable of Office Politics)"

This is way too much fun. Let me know if you want more...


this contest too complicated for me.

Timothy Johnson

EM - thanks for all of the submissions... I think you've taken over the top 3 slots in both categories.

C'mon Faizal... I went to your blog... you're a creative thinker... just cut loose and have some fun with it.


ROFL. EM apologizes for the extreme proliferation of book titles. EM will stop now. (But this is the most fun contest ever.)

Timothy Johnson

No apologies necessary, EM... and quite frankly, keep 'em coming if you got 'em. I've been loving your offerings!

Tom Haskins

Alternate title:
A Day at the Zoo
A tour of those exotic office creatures who make it so beastly to be at work

Tom Haskins

Now that the deadline has passed, I'm submitting my disqualified entry in full. It replicates the animal and garden structure metaphors (zoo animals and zoo cages).
A Day at the Zoo
A tour of those exotic office creatures who make it so beastly to be at work

Disgusted by the seals that get too excited every time management tosses some bait?
Frightened by the jackals who will "go for your jugular" if they're ever let out of their cages?
Bothered by a hippo that dumps a load on every good idea you come up with?
Wary of the camels storing up every grievance against you for the long haul through your desert?
Tired of the orangutan aping your A game and taking all the credit?
Got a rhino in your department who's too thick skinned to take any criticism?
Is you office elephant sticking her long nose in your business?
Infuriated by those who keep monkeying around and not getting any work done?
Frustrated by the office lion that just lies there and expects to be waited on?
Notice any peacocks strutting their stuff to be the center of attention?
Covering your ears every time the parrots screech about the latest changes?
Staring at a fish that stares back at you like there's nothing to be upset about?


Hey, Tim. :)

I think Tom would have to win the "volume per entry" category if there were one, even after the fact.

I'd have submitted more, but I think I peaked with "Mirror Mirror." :)

Phil Gerbyshak

Man, you folks are REALLY creative. Tim - you could offer multiple titles of your book, depending on who you're looking to reach with your book! Well done everyone.

I vote for...all of you.

Wait, nobody asked me. Sorry Tim :)

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