Making Dead Ends Meet
by Jen LiMarzi (iUniverse / 0-595-49618-1 / March 2008 / 164 pages / $12.95)
Reviewed by Dr. Al Past for iUBR
Cara Peroni is a Gen-X single woman not long out of college, living uncomfortably and unconfidently in Queens, at the scary point where she hopes her early life of dependence and safety will segue into a successful career, a happy marriage, and all the rest. But that isn't happening.
Instead she finds herself in a mind-bending parallel universe when she takes a job as a medical writer with the Ion Group, a mismanaged collection of oddballs whose purpose it takes her months to unravel, and whose politics she only learns to live with after an even longer time. The maneuvering starts at the top, with Pierre O’Connell, who looks like a movie star and considers himself a gifted executive. The truth, Cara finds, is that he hasn’t a clue. He elevates his quirks into virtues, confuses and frustrates the rest of the staff, and creates a virtual hell for everyone. He chooses his division heads, as far as anyone can determine, by picking the best toadies, including, at one time, a woman who has an inordinate fondness for corduroy. The noise it makes as she walks serves as early warning to employees to look busy.
Cara’s frustrations are compounded outside of work by a succession of disillusioning dates resulting from an Internet matching site, as well as by her parents, especially her mother, who tries desperately to rule her daughter’s life over the phone. The nightmare is relieved only by the electronic lifeline provided by several friends, including a dear friend from college on the other side of the country. A gay man with his own problems, his sage advice at regular intervals helps keep Cara sane enough to meet the next day.
There are enough amusing incidents to keep one chuckling, as, for example, when Cara is on a preposterous group morale-building retreat and lures her boss into range to be ‘killed’ during a paintball exercise. Anyone with typical experience in the workplace will find plenty to shake his or her head over. Will Cara survive her enervating depression? Will she ever be able to move on to satisfying work with reasonably sane colleagues? Will she waste her last “silver bullet” at the matchmaking site and find a true companion to share her thoughts and feelings with? If you read Making Dead Ends Meet you will find out.
Jen LiMarzi’s first novel reads well, by and large, mostly smoothly and with few proofing errors. Gen-Xers who would like a fellow’s take on their occasional plight or those considerably older who would like a feel for what the world looks like to one such will find Making Dead Ends Meet an enjoyable read.