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BYRON is a poet. And he knows it.
The problem is, he’s unable to make art out of the mess he has made of his life.
The more Byron drinks, the more money he makes. If he can keep up this pace, he might enable his embattled company to stay in the black. Maybe if he doubles down, all those stock options will split, reconcile and multiply. This is his story and he’s stuck to it.
Byron is a real piece of work in progress: old enough to own his own condo and pay all his bills most of the time; young enough to be unmarried but understand he is not getting any younger. Byron would love to mix things up and instigate some excitement into his own humble narrative. Unfortunately, a fight scene is not feasible, a car chase is getting too carried away, and a love interest appears to be out of the question. Also, he has to be awake and ready to work in the morning, just like everyone else.
A recovering bartender, Byron struggled to escape the self-destructive restaurant business, but finds that the drinking and drugging of the corporate world are more pervasive—and encouraged—than he could ever have imagined. He finds himself unprepared for life after thirty, and ambivalent about the semi-fortune his stock options might eventually yield. Then, when a rumor circulates that a devastating round of layoffs is scheduled to occur just before Christmas, Byron begins to envision where he’ll be when something approximating reality comes crashing down.
NOT TO MENTION A NICE LIFE examines corporate America during the not-so-quiet storm that preceded the historic economic meltdown of 2008. Sean Murphy lifts the rock to reveal a high power HQ and guides us through the alternately surreal and exciting world of big deals and small souls. A literary expansion on “Office Space”, this novel provides an answer to a question not enough people have asked: What happened to Holden Caulfield when he grew up? He got a job.
Praise for Not to Mention a Nice Life
Sean Murphy’s NOT TO MENTION A NICE LIFE offers a voice rarely seen — that whisper of human suffering that comes from an insular heart. It’s as if the photo negative suddenly spoke, and claimed to be the real image, the real person behind the living color and magnetism of what we find in our everyday moment-to-moment existence. As Byron moves into and through his “Terrible Thirties,” and the dot-com. boom of wild heights and terrifying drops, we move with him… but we also get to watch, and be that cautious eye which only has to watch, and doesn’t have to be. Which is both blessing and curse in this romp of Americana, half FIGHT CLUB, half CATCHER IN THE RYE for the middle-aged. Regardless, I’m hooked — and want to stay that way.
–Jesse Waters, author of Human Resources
The world of work, life, and love changed seismically in the early 2000’s and Sean Murphy’s narrator Byron, like everyone else, has been scrambling to keep up ever since…or wondering whether keeping up is even possible. In Not to Mention a Nice Life, Murphy’s masterful storytelling takes us on an honest, searing, sardonic ride through the decade that wasn’t.
-Jeremy Neuner, co-author of The Rise of the Naked Economy
It’s early in that lamentable decade of the 2000s, and while the good times continue to roll in corporate America, they won’t be rolling for much longer—and no one knows it better than Byron, the Everyman narrator of Sean Murphy’s witty and wise firecracker of a debut. If you liked Joshua Ferris’s AND THEN WE CAME TO THE END, you’ll love NOT TO MENTION A NICE LIFE. Byron might not have a future, but Sean Murphy certainly does.
–Greg Olear, author of Totally Killer and Fathermucker
Murphy has provided a wry sendup of the manners and mores of 21st century American culture, which inspects all the Prufrockian frailties and foibles we carry through life.
–Martha’s Vineyard Times
Murphy has cleverly transformed Byron from Lord to dot-com shlub. Instead of chasing minotaurs through labyrinths, he hunts for meaning among the cubicles. Not to Mention a Nice Life is a wry, acerbic, and terrifying critique of the notion that there is really nothing left to critique. Modern Corporate America is less an enemy than a state of reality. They have won. We have lost. Byron, like the rest of the 99%, is left with layoffs, failed stock options and the slight possibility of love. Read this very funny book. Like, right now. And then pour yourself an ice-cold laudanum.
-Sean Beaudoin, author of Wise Young Fool and Welcome Thieves