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Customer Service

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  129 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
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In this devilish satire by one of France's most audacious social commentators, a man gets a state-of-the-art cellphone that, in spite of himself, he falls in love with. It really does seem as if it's going to make his life easier.

Except then he loses it. Luckily, he's a preferred customer, which is supposed to make it easy for him to get a re
Paperback, 74 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Melville House (first published October 9th 2003)
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The Crimson Fucker
Apr 04, 2009 The Crimson Fucker rated it really liked it
The other night I was at the DT window in my job… and a lady asked me what was the difference between 6 different items that have the word “nachos” on them… at firsts I thought she was confused and I ask her to be more specific and to tell me the 2 items she wanted to hear the difference… and she said on her bitchy voice “all of them…” this is the part of the history when the bitch realizes too fucking late with what kind of nut case she dealing… 45 seconds later when I finished telling her ever ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
So I was in Philly on Sunday with David to visit my friend Pix. Now I'm not a social person so I do well in New York, but in Philly I realized that the whole world is not as up on technology as me. At home I am not required to talk to people CVS, the train, regional rail, ordering pizza... I don't know if it's even possible to buy something from an actual person, so as pix got in line to buy train tickets at the window I had a bit of a panic attack at the prospect of not being able to just buy i ...more
Aug 17, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it
Like The Trial set in a contemporary consumerist society, right down to it's redemptive but bleak ending.
Oct 11, 2012 jeremy rated it did not like it
Shelves: translation, fiction
benoît duteurtre's customer service (service clientèle), despite a subject ripe for sociotechnological critique (or comicality, at the least), is largely a dull, uninspired affair. content to gaze at the reflection our hyper-connected society's glossy veneer proffers so seductively, duteurtre misses an opportunity to explore both the personal and collective expense incurred by our often slavish, non-reciprocal devotion to advanced consumer gadgetry (purveyed through the ever-sleek vacuity of cle ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 Jim Elkins rated it it was ok
Shelves: french
It is easy to see why Beckett encouraged Duteurtre. He has a controlled tone and pace, and the form is spare and fluid. This could have been an excellent exercise in form if it weren't for the subject, "customer service."

The content is consistently passe: the narrator struggles with personal computers and technology; he trots out cliched notions of capitalism and politics; he indulges in inept musings on sociology and demographics; and the whole is driven by a lackadaisical plot machinery to do
Feb 26, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
this book is mainly about customer service being a terrible nightmare. this part was my favourite part

"i'm christian. you're muslim, and i respect you, because we have the same God. we can all come together with computers. i organize free internet training classes wednesday afternoons, would you be interested in coming?"

far from distrusting such a preposition, the muslim raised his beard to ask, "On PC or Mac?"

the priest knit his brow. "i know everything about PCs, but even if you're into Mac,
Portia Renee Robillard
Oct 11, 2012 Portia Renee Robillard rated it did not like it
What could have been a promising platform of commentary about the increasing depersonalization of the technological world, instead fell completely, lifelessly flat. Devoid of humor or at the very least original sentiment, even the characters fail to offer any dimension at all. The novella did succeed in creating a sense of frustration that comes with automated customer service, however that in and of itself does not prove to be enough to carry a compelling story.
Karlo Mikhail
Oct 06, 2012 Karlo Mikhail rated it really liked it
This past week I was reading two short novels, one by Benoît Duteurtre and the other by Heinrich Boll. While both are satires, it is interesting to note how much the horizons of the peoples living in Europe has changed over the years.

Duteurtre’s Customer Service, published in 2008, problematizes the relationship between the individual consumer and the globalized capitalist economy. Boll’s The End of a Mission, published in 1968, tackles the relationship between the individual citizen and the mod
Melville House Publishing
"The enfant terrible of modernity." -- Le Figaro
Aug 26, 2014 Bison rated it liked it
"Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, capitalism had opposed with its efficiency the cumbersome bureaucracy of communism: the logic of the market versus that of long waiting lines. And yet, since the widespread victory of capitalism--focused only on relentless competition, the continual growth of profit, a nonstop reduction of costs and personnel, a fanaticism for mergers--the consuming was becoming obligated. Supermarket checkouts like freeway toll stations, airport concourses with formerly-publi ...more
Oct 22, 2011 MJ rated it really liked it
Another great pick from Melville House's Contemporary Art of the Novella Series. Duteurtre is a French music critic and writer. Here, he focuses his satiric wit on the ever-more-powerful and interconnected business world.

Set in present times, the author describes a world in which corporations have infiltrated every move that their customers make - even when those customers have no idea they are even buying the company's product.

A global telecom company, with the mysterious "Leslie Delmare" as
May 10, 2016 Brian added it
Ultimately a brief, slight, fairly toothless satire, but has a few great moments. My favourite, in which a priest approaches an Iman in a McDonald's line-up:P

"I'm Christian. You're Muslim, and I respect you, because we have the same God. We can all come together with computers. I organize free Internet training classes Wednesday afternoons, would you be interested in coming?"

Far from distrusting such a proposition, the Muslim raised his beard to ask, "On PC or Mac?"
Feb 04, 2014 Victoria rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
Customer Service was an amusing satire about our increased reliance on technology. You cannot help but cheer on the protagonist as he tries to fight against having subscriptions and applications that he does not need at all. His struggles are all the more funny because he refuses to keep up with all the technological advances being thrown on him. Loved this short novella.
Michael Seidlinger
Feb 12, 2012 Michael Seidlinger rated it liked it
"The only person who could take care of my problem was imaginary."

Want a taste of what hell's going to be like? Call that 1-800 number, customer service. They tell you that your call matters to them but what matters most is what you stand for:

Dollars, another telephone number bound by contractual terms.
Mar 15, 2009 Tosh rated it really liked it
Ah the every day pressure of living life with computers and people who are connected to their computers. And the fact that it is extremely difficult in reaching a real live person on the telephone when you need service. Comedy that is more tragic than anything else.
Jun 28, 2011 Todd rated it it was ok
Could it be a master stroke that a book called Customer Service is as frustrating as the real thing? No. Just because a lot of readers had to call customer service at one point doesn't mean that this book is interesting or good.
Nov 19, 2009 Richmond rated it it was amazing
A taut, slim novella/tall tale about becoming trapped inside a large telecom's customer service tricks and traps. Very realistic and infuriating, and yet fantastic at the same time. Vive le misanthropic French authors.
Oct 06, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Chairy, Matthieu
Recommended to Michelle by: The nice woman working the Melville House table at the Brooklyn Book Festival
So French, so cute.
Dec 30, 2013 Theadora rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lots of people
Recommended to Theadora by: A guy from France I talked to in 2009
Shelves: my-library
Fuck you, Leslie Delmare.
Robert Drozda
Apr 16, 2013 Robert Drozda rated it did not like it
Shelves: ebooks
Nízkoúrovňová komunální satira. My korporátní děvky víme, že skutečnost je ještě mnohem drsnější.
Aug 07, 2012 Pascale rated it liked it
A delightful short book about the author’s attempts at getting customer service in a technology-driven world. In French. In French (Service clientèle).
Jan 07, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it
Brilliant but don't read it in the middle of the night because it will fuel your (my) paranoia.
Nov 15, 2015 Soksovannara rated it really liked it
I live this book
Sep 06, 2009 Edan rated it really liked it
I'm so smitten with these novellas from Melville house. This one is odd and very French. It felt right to read this on a plane, before heading to the wilds of Wyoming.
Mugren Al-Ohaly
Mugren Al-Ohaly rated it it was ok
Sep 30, 2015
Kristine rated it liked it
Aug 18, 2014
Tom Willard
Tom Willard rated it really liked it
Jan 13, 2010
Molly rated it it was amazing
May 01, 2014
Cathryn rated it it was amazing
Feb 11, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
  • La Haine de l'Occident
  • The Lemoine Affair
  • The Conspiracy of Art: Manifestos, Interviews, Essays
  • The Death of the Author
  • The Dialogue of the Dogs
  • The Pathseeker
  • Women in Evidence
  • In The Metro
  • Les Grandes Marées
  • Freya of the Seven Isles
  • Pseudo
  • Mort aux cons
  • The Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl
  • Small Lives
  • A Theory of the Drone
  • The Waitress Was New
  • The Beach of Falesá
  • That Mad Ache & Translator, Trader: An Essay on the Pleasantly Pervasive Paradoxes of Translation (Afterword)

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