Corinne Maier, the author of Bonjour Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn’t Pay, is a hypocrite.
In her latest best seller, she pokes fun at big business and those associated with it, while being a part of it herself. She uses the term “news speak,” similar to that used in George Orwell’s 1984, to illustrate the overuse of unnecessarily big words in the office. She then uses the same lingo throughout the book, making it exceedingly hard to read. She advocates doing nothing in your job, because you’re just gong to be replaced anyway. However, she later suggests you retain the highest position possible because the higher up you get, the less work you do.
Maier is a French economist, psychoanalyst and the author if nine books. Bonjour Laziness is her sarcastic take on the “real world” of business and how to successfully survive it. The title alone is enough for a passerby to pick up the small, 137-page paperback.
A quick flip to the table of contents will cement the reader’s curiosity, with chapters titled “The Dice are Loaded,” “The Biggest Rip-offs,” “The Idiots You Rub Shoulders With” and “Extra, Extra: Big Business is Doomed.”
Titles such as these give hope of a refreshing, true take on what the reader has been experiencing – or is about to experience – in business. However, a mere 20 pages into the commentary leaves readers wondering why they bought the $12 book in the first place.
At first, the book has promise. College-aged readers especially will appreciate Maier’s blatant honesty in phrases such as, “Millions of people work in business, but its world is opaque. This is because the people who talk about it the most – and I mean university professors – have never worked there; they aren’t ‘in the know.'”
Young 30somethings already disheartened by their short careers will identify with phrases such as, “The corporate world, alas, has no use for noble passions such as courage, generosity, or devotion to the public good. It doesn’t make us dream.”
However, the deeper the reader gets, the more this constantly negative sarcasm gets annoying and exhausting. Also, because Maier lives in France, she attempts to back up her points by using French examples. This does nothing for American readers who have no idea what she’s talking about, and it only serves to intensify the building confusion.
On Page 10, Maier gives the thesis of her novelette: “Today the most important thing is to participate as little as possible. And this may even be enough – who knows? – to reduce the system to dust.” The reader should stop reading there, for this is the only real point she makes. Maier uses the last 120 pages to repeatedly reiterate this sentence.
The entire book can be summed up in the seven pages of the conclusion, titled “Begin Your Sabotage Tomorrow.” Maier gives “The Ten Commandments Imposed on the Middle Manager,” where she illustrates the business way of thinking about the world, and her “Ten Counterproposals,” or her rebuttal to them. Here, Maier successfully makes all of her points she attempted to make throughout the book in clear, concise, bulleted paragraphs.
A word to the wise: Don’t read the book. A mere skim through the conclusion will tell readers everything they need to know.
Perhaps Maier should take her own advice: “Caught between two policies, you die, the victim of your own contradictions.”
Publisher: Vintage BooksPrice: $12