Monday, November 4, 2019

the last book I ever read (Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel, excerpt eight)

from Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner:

It was hard for Toby to pinpoint exactly when he’d noticed the change in her. Yes, she spoke to her subordinates like they were pieces of shit, but that was the culture at Alfooz & Lichtenstein—that was how they taught their employees to survive, or something. Toby would express surprise when he heard her on the phone talking to an intern or an assistant—it particularly seemed at asst2 couldn’t find his ass from his ass these days. He would hear her on the phone saying, “You forgot who you are talking to,” and “I’m sorry, but do you think I’m an idiot?” and “Honestly, I am listening to you and cannot believe what is coming out of your mouth,” and “No offense, but when I hire at a Yale job fair, I expect someone with a little light behind the eyes,” and “I saw those press kits and it looks like a homeless person off the street did them.” He assumed the stress of her work was sending her into overdrive. But then she said things to her clients like “Oh my God, were we the same person in another life?” and “You are too much,” and “That is amazing,” and “You are amazing.” See? She was also capable of that, which made the fact that she didn’t do it at home harder to stomach.

When he put it all together and applied himself to the situation, he realized that he was being spoken to like the employee, not like the client. And he’d ask, “Do you ever notice that you speak to me like one of your employees that you hate? And that you’re really nice to your clients?” And she would say, “God, Toby, do you really need me to put on a show for you, too?” And then she would do a sickly sweet impression of he wasn’t sure quite what—a 1950s housewife? A version of herself she thought Toby wanted her to be? “I’m so glad my hubby is home! Should I get you a martini?” Her voice would be bouncy and bright and he would think for the first time that maybe he should murder her.

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