In association with


e., The e. Before Christmas and The Book, The Movie, The T-shirt

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M@tt Beaumont is the author of a very funny novel, which is a modern variation on the 18th and 19th century form whereby a novel's story is told wholly or largely through letters. In this case, of course, it is e-mail that carries the plot, and an attempt to win a Coca-Cola account that drives it. The use of e-mail where normally people would just speak to one another is quite cleverly handled, and only strains credulity very mildly in a few places.
The real pleasure of this novel is in the characters. Their mis-behaviour seems quite extraordinary to me, but maybe it is par for the course for the younger generation, or for London, or for the advertising industry. For all their criminal escapades and colourful mental health issues, they are somehow very believable characters, at least as far as comic characters go, and they remind me of people I have worked with in the distant past, in my youth, when working in a wildly dysfunctional office was the norm. There is lots of buggery, cocaine, back-stabbing and outrageous expenditure from the corporate purse, one unconvincing suicide attempt and one rather charming office love tryst, along with the usual deceit and missed deadlines and office pranks.
There is a sequel, The e. before Christmas, which is very short, a little tidbit, a stocking stuffer. It is more of the same and just as funny, but shorter.
Finally, there is Matt Beaumont's more recent book, and a departure from the e-mail format, The Book, the Film, the T-Shirt. It is also a departure from the Miller-Shanks advertising agency that was the setting for the e. books, although, unsurprisingly, there is a "cameo" appearance from one of the characters. It is about an ad agency, though: the rather imaginatively named Fuller-Scheidt.
Reminiscent of The Office and Just Shoot Me, but funnier than either, these books are recommended for mindless diversion, and any of them might make a good holiday read.