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The insightful, inspiring and laugh-out-loud-funny story of a campus radical turned public defender turned People magazine writer turned corporate executive—who's laid off and finds himself in a place called "Too Young to Retire and Too Old to Hire"
James S. Kunen—author of The Strawberry Statement, the best-selling account of the student uprising at Columbia University—chronicles his adventures on a quest for meaning that leads to a classroom full of immigrants.
"Timely and timeless—an acute, observant, funny and moving story of what's truly important in life."
— Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment
"Think Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man,' only it's not set to music, it's in prose."
— Philip S. Turner, The Great Gray Bridge book blog
Excerpts from the book
"Once, my son and I were standing in a cemetery as a man's gravestone was about to be unveiled—about to be. But first a rabbi was talking, at length—about the man, and his life, and life itself, and God, and the Jewish people, and the Torah, or maybe the Talmud, and what wise men had said about these things in the past, in Hebrew and in English. It was a very hot day. As the rabbi talked, I turned to my then-teenage son and whispered, 'How can life be so short when this speech is so long?' Time doesn't fly. It just never stops. And the next thing you know, it's now." (p. 2)more
"Today is the day that we in Human Resources and Corporate Communications have been planning for: Bad News Day. All across the company, 2,400 people are being asked to step into their superiors' offices, where they are told that they're being 'let go.' Let go—the phrase intrigues me. It suggests that people have been wanting to go, have been prevented from doing so, and are now being permitted to depart. Either that or they've been held aloft—like trapeze artists, by the wrists—and now they're not going to be held onto anymore." (p. 26)
"In speech lab tonight we played 'All You Need is Love.' The students listened and then sang along. I thought it would give them good practice pronouncing the 'uh' sound high in their throat (as in 'up') in 'nothing,' 'done,' 'sung,' and—over and over again—'love.' (They tend to pronounce every 'uh' from a lower place, like the 'oo' in 'good' or the 'u' in 'rude.')less
As I stood at the side of the room listening to my class sing, 'There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be,' I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I was in exactly the right place doing precisely the right thing." (p. 231)
Other Books by James S. Kunen
Praise for The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary
"Wise, resonantly humane, very funny." — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
"An elegant literary stylist . . . Moving, troubling, assertive and eloquent." — The New York Times
Praise for Diary of a Company Man
"Filled with a-ha! moments"
— USA Today
"Diary of a Company Man's narrative, suffused with both wit and wisdom, offers the prospect of hope and transformation in the face of loss. This is a very good and important book."
— Randall Balmer, author of God in the White House
"Captures the soul-grinding nature of the corporation. Kunen has harpooned the Great White Whale of this generation."
— Peter Quinn, author of
The Man Who Never Returned
"Shows how America may finally be getting ready for a better life."
— Jerome Klinkowitz, co-editor,
Norton Anthology of American Literature
"James Kunen has done it again, with his acute, observant, funny and moving story of what's truly important in life.
Diary of a Company Man is timely and timeless - a beautiful piece of writing and enduring source of inspiration."
— Jonathan Alter, author of
The Promise: President Obama, Year One
"James Kunen has been surfing America's historical waves for forty years, reinventing himself just before he wipes out.
In his latest incarnation, aging but youthful, downsized but not downcast, he shows us how to use those corporate smarts to do something useful and fulfilling."
— Robert Lipsyte, author of
The Accidental Sportswriter
"If Holden Caulfield ever lost his job in corporate communications, this is the book he would write."
— Kate Klise, author of
In the Bag