Title: The Beautiful Bureaucrat
Plot Type: Surreal Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company (8/2015)
As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond.
Phillips takes the narrative structure of Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener and turns it on its head in this existential tale in which a curious worker-drone becomes increasingly alarmed over the activities of her faceless, passive-aggressive boss (always referred to as The Person with Bad Breath) and the huge, impersonal company that employs them both. Many authors would cast big business as the bad guy: intimidating the hapless workers, suppressing free will, and hiding an evil purpose behind every swipe of the computer key. But Phillips takes a different approach. Here, the bureaucracy is portrayed as neither moral nor immoral, neither good nor evil. At one point, in response to a "thank you," the bad-breathed boss chuckles, "Oh, don't thank me. There's nothing benevolent here…I'm not doing favors, I'm doing paperwork. Getting all the ducks in a row." But…what ducks? What row?
|Josephine's first file|