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The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
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About the Author

ALAIN DE BOTTON is the author of three works of fiction and six works of nonfiction, including How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Consolations of Philosophy, and The Art of Travel. He lives in London, where he founded The School of Life.

Reviews

Swiss author/TV presenter De Botton (www.alaindebotton.com) follows The Architecture of Happiness (2006) with this book exploring the highs and lows-mostly the lows-of work. De Botton asserts that work keeps us from facing the reality of impending death, but his argument seems to reflect his own insecurities rather than some universal truth. Veteran actor/narrator David Colacci sounds bored here, not wholly effectively conveying De Botton's dry wit. The Pantheon hc edition contains approximately 100 original images by documentary photographer Richard Baker; listeners can view the images that didn't make it into that edition at www.alaindebotton.com. A good match for The New Yorker crowd.-Johannah Genett, Hennepin Cty. Lib., Minneapolis Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

This pensive study explores work not as an economic or sociological phenomenon but as an existential predicament. Observing an eclectic sample of workers, from fishermen to a CEO of an accounting firm, de Botton (How Proust Can Change Your Life) counterposes "the expansive intelligence" embodied in vast business organizations with the blinkered routines of their human cogs and finds that tension rife with philosophical conundrums. Cookie marketers illustrate the link between happiness and triviality in bourgeois society; office drones wear "a mask of shallow cheerfulness" over "the fury and sadness continually aroused by their colleagues"; a visit to a satellite launch center contrasts the restrained self-effacement of rocket scientists with their power to "upstage the gods" during fiery blastoffs. De Botton's humanism recoils at the banality, crassness and forced optimism of the business mindset, but he admires its ability to construct the world-and even finds poetry in a supermarket supply chain that flies "blood-red strawberries... over the Arctic Circle by moonlight, leaving a trail of nitrous oxide across a black and gold sky." (The book includes evocative photos of commercial and industrial sites.) De Botton's sprightly mix of reportage and rumination expands beyond the workplace to investigate the broader meaning of life. (June 2) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Exquisitely written. . . . A perceptive philosophical meditation on work, with its extraordinary claim to provide, along with love, the principal source of meaning in our lives." --Boston Globe "In the place of easy answers, De Botton offers an array of potent and portable insights about the delight and despair we find, daily, in our working lives." --Los Angeles Times "Like a combination of Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace and pop philosopher Thomas Moore, De Botton's dense, pensive prose expresses a palpable preoccupation with finding better ways of living in our bewilderingly estranged age." --Salon

"With de Botton's humor, boundless erudition and capable turns of phrase, it's the best work yet (and certainly the best-timed) from a pre-eminent genre-bender, one certain to find a welcome home in the hands of anyone making a living." -The Portland Oregonian "Alain de Botton's new philosophical treatise, "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work," feels like an intellectual acid trip without the stimulants. He focuses your gaze where you have never even considered looking and turns upside down your notions of beauty and love and work and what really is involved in crafting a meaningful life. The book is groundbreaking in approach, style and imagination." -The San Francisco Chronicle "The Pleasures and Sorrows treats readers to a cast of eccentrics as it examines the thing we spend most of our lives doing." --Business Week

"The workplace as subject matter brings out the best in [de Botton's] writing. . . . His wit and his powers of ironic observation are on display throughout what is a stylish and original book." --The Sunday Times (London)

"Wonderfully readable stuff. . . . What de Botton is showing us, in his de Botton-esque way, is that, in our world of niched desire and economic efficiency, our working practices might be driving us nuts. . . . A timely book." --The Spectator

"Pleasurably intelligent. . . . The author has plenty of thought-provoking things to say." --The Economist

"This artful creation reports from planet Earth in the manner of a bookish Martian sending a postcard home. . . . This is a terribly funny book, intentionally so, and its ostensible subject is one that touches all of us." --The Daily Mail

"Features passages of imaginative prose as powerful as anything by Charles Dickens or George Orwell and explores the notion that people rarely feel connected to what they do for a living." --Word Magazine


"His questions are as important as they are unsettling." --The Financial Times

"Teems with sharp portraits, interesting details, and shrewd commentary. . . . De Botton is always fun to watch." --The Guardian

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