The Last Thunk: Gerry Farrell
Accolades, recognition, self-worth and appreciation are some attributes that mark the way people working in large corporations or businesses feel they deserve for a job well done. However, that is not always the case and sometimes people over work, over indulge in after work activities to stay in the loop or get on the A team, in order to climb what they think is that ladder of success all the while looking over their shoulders making sure that no one is going to by pass them, take away their moment of glory or even worse stick a knife in their back. Carlyle Nash Media appears to be a success with star publisher Mitch Blake at the helm. An ad-packed magazine that sounds and appears well organized and put together but when the debut issue of World Magazine gets poor reviews in the press, those promising ads want to take their business somewhere else and Mitch whose focus is mainly on himself, what he hopes for his own future and doing damage control, you learn from the start as the author takes us through the struggles, the tempers that flare the flashbacks to where it all began and what he can do to get the magazine back on track at all costs. After all it’s his reputation.
Meet our narrator Paul Cavanaugh who overthinks, over worries, over works and is possessed with making a good impression and does not always focus on the necessary and yet manages to get the jobs done but expects huge letters of praise, acceptance and recognition but gets a token thank you. Paul loves to drink, he’s a staffer who needs more and when Mitch offers an incentive to all his employees granting them time off, a special miniature beach ball with an incentive card, Paul decides to keep both and then things take on a different turn.
His direct boss is Michael who seems to use Paul when he cannot create a presentation that will float Mitch’s boat and make him look good. Paul is smart, and he knows it, yet he rubs people at times the wrong way and his wife Diane feels like she is competing with World Magazine for his time and affection. Added in when she is away, he is to care for their infant son Aiden, but manages to have his mother take over instead. His priorities are in too many places, his drinking becomes a problem and at times when we learn about the meetings, workshops and after work required dinners and more, we wonder if he will be tempted to take the wrong path. Betrayals come high in this novel and friendships are broken and trusts are frayed as Paul must make a major decision and the basis is on beach ball as he tells it to readers in his own words and you feel his frustrations, fears highs and lows.
Throughout the novel the author creatively weaves us back and through to get to know Simon Bell, Carlyle’s President of Corporate Sales, Mitch when he finally decides to leave and work on World Magazine which just might be the down fall of his new company while Michael Pace is moving to another position. John, his drinking buddy even offered him a position as his second in command, but you get the feeling that for some reason Paul is obsessed with Mitch. Mitch shows no empathy or regard for anyone but himself even when he gives praise you can tell it is false. So, why is Paul so concerned with his appraisal of his work and him? Just what happens when he attends parties with Emily that he has become too close to and could ruin his marriage?
The chapter headings help the reader know what is about to happen and the impending dealings that Paul would describe in each position he held and with each magazine. As Paul began to implode, Diane realized that things would not change, and that John, Mitch and World were his life and it was time for him to be on his own. She left to live with her sister and then asked him to relocate which he did with an old friend leading her to tell him he needed to talk with someone to set his priorities straight. But, the beachball would come as a catalyst to hopefully move him up the ladder of success but when his plan with his friend Keith takes a negative turn to some point and the reporter thinks he has all the facts, what comes out in the news is not what Paul expected. How far will someone go to be at the top? How far or how low will someone stoop to become recognized and kowtow to the will of someone else? Mitch Blake held power over Paul and unless he shakes it and realizes his own self-worth, he might self-destruct even more.
Jessup and Greer are the prime company to work for and John seems to think he and Paul have a good chance to get something there. But Simon Bell has his eyes on Paul and the offer he makes him with John present is stunning shocking and the cost is one beachball which is his ace in the hole to get what he wants and Mitch out of the picture. Things take on many different turns and Paul learns something about himself at the very moment the envelope is passed to him and the offer is made. Jessup and Greer vs. Carlyle Nash Media: Which wins? Which folds? What about World Magazine? When Lou Lamont’s story comes out what you the reader will learn is the true meaning of well you might say backstabbing, corporate climbing and someone so self-possessed that the only way to rise is to sink the beachballs belonging to others. Loyalties are discarded, friendships are tossed aside and the meaning of corporate and why Mitch really needed to beachballs well that remains confidential. Paul Cavanagh: Will he remain under the power of others forever? Will he finally ever see his own self-worth? What about the tarot cards and the psychic that warned him about his future downfall? Will he and Diane get back together ever again? The ending will set up wondering what is next for Paul and for the cast of this humorous, at times sorrowful and yet true-life book about an industry that appears to be cutthroat and those that will do anything to get ahead no matter the cost. The scenes with the memory of his Uncle Frank talking to him and the meltdown seemed so real and enlightening as author Gerry Ferrell delivers the humor, sarcasm, joy, different passions, and side bars for a man that needs to see his own reflection and look deep inside himself before he winds up a true truly alone. In case you don’t know it and I found it by wondering what Thunk means: a thunk is a beguilingly simple-looking question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and helps you start to look at the world in a whole new light. But will Paul?
Enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking and every executive and over eager person needs to understand that they do might need to understand THE LAST THUNK!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ network/MJ Magazine