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Company (Vintage Contemporaries)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  5,177 Ratings  ·  478 Reviews
Stephen Jones is a shiny new hire at Zephyr Holdings. From the outside, Zephyr is just another bland corporate monolith, but behind its glass doors business is far from usual: the beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else to do nothing, the sales reps use self help books as manuals, no one has seen the CEO, no one knows exactly what they are selling, and ...more
Paperback, 338 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Vintage (first published January 17th 2006)
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Nov 30, 2007 Trevor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been so good - but wasn't.

Anyone who has worked anywhere in the last 20 years will recognise, with some pain, stuff written here - the nightmares of quality improvement plans, the language mangling this is ‘mission statements’ and the feeling that work has become an experiment performed on us by our less than benevolent overlords – all of this ought to have made for a very funny book. You know, in the all-too-uncomfortable sense that we laugh and cry about the same things.
Max Barry's Company is a corporate satire for those that might find Douglas Coupland a bit too challenging.

One of the many problems with humorous satires (oh there are many, the number one problem being tied between them not being very astute and not being funny) is that once the premise (joke, social observation) is set up then the author has to make a book out of it. Like just about every movie made that is based on a Saturday Night Live skit, there is painful a realization, which comes about
Jason Edwards
Jun 21, 2012 Jason Edwards rated it really liked it
I really enjoy corporate cubicle fiction, for some reason. Books like Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, and I’ll even include Last Night at the Brain Thieves Ball by Scott Spencer. Company is sort of a mix of these, in as much as there’s the petty politics of working in a cube farm, and a deeper conspiracy fueling the intrigue. Don’t read Company if you feel good about the corporation you work for and don’t want that feeling challenged. Calling Max Barry "cynical" is like calling Microso ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Bill rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, just like I wanted to like Jennifer Government but ultimately it fails and for the same reasons. There's just no depth here. Maybe I shouldn't look for any, just accept it as light-hearted satire. Still, the entire story line feels contrived, existing only to point out truths that we all know anyway: big corporations don't care about their employees. Maybe if just one senior manager was given a small amount of depth, rising above the expensive suit-wearing, golf-playi ...more
Jun 22, 2007 Grumpus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
This is based upon the audio download from []

Narrated by: William Dufris

There have been various comments about this reader…either love him or hate him. I happily align with the former.

Since there are many other sources for a review of the book, I’ll comment only what makes this different, the reader. With so many characters in the story, I found different voices the reader used for each helpful and delightful in the reading of this very clever story.

I rate William Dufris
Feb 08, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it
Ah, office life. So rife for parody. So fertile with corporate absurdity. Where mankind's unique lunacies are simultaneously coddled and dismissed. The things that make us uncomfortable and disgruntled are handled with pig-skin gloves and ice tongs, and the things that make us excited and content are considered extraneous to the bottom line. Where back sides are so well-covered that they're almost impossible to kiss. Is there any better fodder for literature, television, or movies?

Joshua Ferris'
Christopher Litsinger
Jan 07, 2011 Christopher Litsinger rated it really liked it
Anyone who has worked in corporate bureaucracy would find something to laugh about in this book; which tells the story of a company that exists only as a research lab for the authors of the "Omega Management System". This should give you a good idea of the book's tone:
There are stories — legends, really — of the “steady job.” Old-timers gather graduates around the flickering light of a computer monitor and tell stories of how the company used to be, back when a job was for life, not just for th
Nick Iuppa
May 19, 2016 Nick Iuppa rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2011 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever worked in a large corporate environment, you'll recognize the characters in the book. And you'll laugh about it. Or you'll smirk.
You've read another big corporation satire, and maybe you'll give it to someone else who works in a large corporation, as if to say, "Look, corporate life IS stupid. Just because we buy into it every day doesn't mean that we're a part of it." Maybe you'll add a "LOL" to the end. Or say L-O-L, which you'll (hopefully) regret saying later. And that's it.
Jason Moss
Mar 22, 2013 Jason Moss rated it liked it
For the first 100 pages, I was thinking to myself, "Genius! This is a rip-roaring, laugh-out-loud (in the literal sense of the phrase), spot-on scalding satire of corporate culture. Each of author Max Barry's initial poison-tipped arrows hit the corporate bulls-eye...the use of the elevator buttons to visualize the corporate hierarchy; the inanity of corporate voice-mail; the over-confidence of MBAs; the invisibility of the CEO; the meaninglessness of the company mission statement; or the aimles ...more
Greg Zimmerman
Not bad - just kind of loses momentum in the second half. It was a funnier novel before you learn the twist.
Jul 05, 2017 Alan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Human resources
Recommended to Alan by: Subsequent work
The problem with employees, you see, is everything. You have to pay to hire them and pay to fire them, and, in between, you have to pay them. They need business cards. They need computers. They need ID tags and security clearances and phones and air-conditioning and somewhere to sit. You have to ferry them to off-site team meetings. You have to ferry them home again. They get pregnant. They injure themselves. They steal. They join religions with firm views on when it's permissible to work. When
Feb 10, 2012 Sandhouse rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
You may remember when I read Machine Man by Max Barry and I remember it being enjoyable. I decided I need something lighthearted to read right now and what better than some crafty satire.

This is the story of a strange Company in which nobody really knows what the company does and everyone’s job sort of folds back into the company. The sales reps sell training packages to the rest of the departments. Infrastructure management charges everyone for management in the building, charging departments f
Oct 19, 2009 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2006
For want of a doughnut, a company is reorganized pretty much sums up Max Barry’s latest novel Company.

If the premise sounds absurd, you’re right. But just like the corporate world, a single dougnut brings about the decline and fall of a company. It serves as a catalyst for the absurdity that can be and is corporate life.

What Jennifer Government did for the advertising industry, Company does for corporate life. But where Company trumps Jennifer is that the story follows a single protagonist in th
Benjamin Solah
Sep 12, 2009 Benjamin Solah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Company by Max Barry is set in a milieu that I love to explore, the corporate office world. It’s full of office politics; the mundane and the ambiguous. I’ve often been fascinated with the world. And this novel explores it in hilarious and thought provoking fashion.

The story is about Jones, a new employee at Zephr Holdings who cannot work out exactly what the company does other than the deals and interactions between of the various departments. The question is what Zephr really does and Jones go
Feb 13, 2009 Kristin rated it liked it
This is March's Book Group selection

From the jacket blurb: Stephen Jones is a shiny new hire at Zephyr Holdings. From the outside, Zephyr is just another bland corporate monolith, but behind its glass doors business is far from usual: the beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else to do nothing, the sales reps use self help books as manuals, no one has seen the CEO, no one knows exactly what they are selling, and missing donuts are the cause of office intrigue. While Jones orig
Sep 06, 2011 Alex rated it really liked it
With Company, author Max Barry, writes a fine entry in contemporary satirical business writing. As silly a genre as that sounds like it is a well populated one, with The Office (both versions) and Parks and Recreation and even The Crimson Permanent Assurance (the short film in front of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life about a company in the middle of a takeover which suddenly turns into a pirate ship/building and assaults their new bosses with the weapons available to any average office worker ...more
Nov 18, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it
I have read this book a number of times. I enjoy it, each and every time. I love the incisive satire of modern businesses and the ridiculous business models and practices companies embrace to be "better." I love the characters, who are swept up into the madness and yet smart enough to know that they are being swept into madness and that they are someone else outside of work. I love the character of Eve, a true sociopath, and yet the author makes you care about her. I love that there aren't easy ...more
Aug 04, 2012 Joni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: office-politics
Not just another post-Gervais office politics novel, not some bullshit Nick Hornby light-reading, summer-holiday, man-with-a-heart-of-gold-finds-love-in-a-world-he-never-made thing.. well maybe it's a little like that, but it's more about wondering what exactly the company you work for actually does, what lays beyond the board meeting door, and what dividing people into increasingly meaningless departments does to them as companies get bigger and bigger and more ambiguous.

Company is funny, rela
Jul 14, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it
Shelves: corporate-satire
I read this novel in a single sitting. Seriously. There wasn’t a single part of the book that I didn’t enjoy. The characters are realistic, the plot is eerily plausible, and the twist is unexpected enough to be entertaining, without coming completely out of left field. But I still felt strangely… unfulfilled.

It took me quite a while to figure out why. It's interesting, it's well written, and the premise is great. But...

I think, in the end, it felt somewhat claustrophobic (which may have been the
Dec 30, 2008 Christine rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed it. It falls into my Fun/ Fluff/ Vacation read category. I found it very entertaining and perhaps in part since I work for a STATE Government...
Part of me frankly wondered if I in fact actually do have a real job. Reorganizations are par for the course as are unexplained and bizarre mandates for no apparent rational reason (in the book, as at my job). Management is removed and out of touch with the peons...
Is this what people with "real jobs" experience?

Portions of the book a
Dec 07, 2014 Tasula rated it liked it
A satire on corporations, good but not as much fun as Lexicon (which was fabulous). Some of the characters were hard to take (e.g. Roger and his missing donut fixation). And of course many of the situations rang true to my long corporate career.
Cory Van Horn
Oct 14, 2007 Cory Van Horn rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful mixture of dry humor and witty substance. Max Barry has an uncanny ability to create characters you grow to love and hate all at the same time. If you are looking for an easy read, then pour a beverage and enter Max Barry’s twisted perspective of the corporate world.
Saturday's Child
Oct 07, 2009 Saturday's Child rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Company could be a place I have worked for or may work for in the future. Companies such as this one could be out there. It is a witty novel that puts a smile on your face.
May 20, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it
Definitely a great read for people who liked the humor in Office Space. Also a pretty cathartic read if you're as disgusted by "corporate culture" as I am :3
May 31, 2017 Jeff rated it liked it
I imagine this is a novel that will appeal more to people depending on their politics and ideology. The novel is well-written, so it's worth reading for people who are more anti-corporation than I am.

This is not a comedy novel about the absurdity of corporate life (although there are elements of that, especially in the first act). Instead, it's a dramatic and mostly serious story about a man bucking against the corporate system (sort of) which I can't really explain without spoiling an early twi
Mar 13, 2017 Katya rated it liked it
Max Barry utilizes the same smartass satire that made Chuck Palahniuk a household name.

Barry's use of running jokes and flat tone replicate Palahniuk's familiar narrative style. It's a hard task to balance both seemingly negative traits and mesh them in such a way as to leave the finished work better for them, but Barry does an overall fine job of it.

In Company, the protagonist(?) Jones is The Guy who questions the system. He doesn't want to be the "new chimp" who follows others blindly just be
Paula Beck
Feb 12, 2017 Paula Beck rated it really liked it
Having recently been disillusioned by the corporate world, I loved this Dilbert-like satire. Laughed out loud several time. Just the brief mention of the "Business Card Design Department" got me laughing. I think this book may have gone on just a little too long, but that was OK by me.
Jun 03, 2017 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I want to own a copy of this book. And it made me think I should read more satire because I really liked it.
Jun 17, 2017 Christina rated it liked it
Occasional moments of brilliance and a fantastic premise. The story gets bogged down in exposition at times though, particularly characters moaning on trying to justify their behavior.
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“There's no requirement that jobs be meaningful. If there was, half the country would be unemployed.” 35 likes
“That's the thing you learn about values: they're what people make up to justify what they did.” 18 likes
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