The term “corporate zombie” has become a cliche at this point, overused and in some cases misnomered. So, Jennifer Fales decided to write a book about it to the ultimate extreme. The Robusta Incident gives a whole new meaning to the term “weird,” as in this is a weird book where a lot of weird stuff happens, but then if you like all things weird, you’re going to enjoy The Robusta Incident.
Howard Danishefsky is feeling pretty low in his life. Living in a dead-end apartment that gives him little joy other than being a place to crash. His boss, Melinda Carpenter, is an ex, who gives him a really hard time every day, and he really can’t stand, but at the same time she’s very beautiful in all the right places, and he can’t really admit to himself he still has the hots for her. Meanwhile, he works as a chemist for the Robusta Corporation, an international coffee conglomerate, and feels he’s going nowhere face. A dead-end job for a dead-end company in a dead-end world.
His father is a renowned astrophysicist he’s never met, who is an important member in the Consortium of Evil. And then, there’s his Russian mother, who is long dead, but shortly after she passed, he started hearing her in his head, and now, she never fails to give plenty of pointless advice and criticism throughout his day. He’s also a heavy drinker and, after work, seeks to get completely sloshed as quick as possible, and wake up in his crappy bed in the morning, feeling like something that shouldn’t be alive.
So Howard decides to throw everything to the wind and try something different. You see he’s concocted this strange serum that he starts putting in the coffee that everyone drinks at work. Each day, he adds more, and the employees blindly drink more, as they become slower, more lethargic, and spend chunks of time just standing around doing nothing as if in a trance. His main target is his boss, and ex, who he is happy to turn into a zombie and control.||But then, a voodoo queen finds out what’s going on and gets involved, as does an aging professor and someone who seems like he should just back into the coffin he apparently came from. As if that isn’t enough, the corporate zombies start doing what zombies tend to do: eat people; and they’re starting to eye him up like a tasty morsel. Maybe he’s gone a little too far this time? But he’s waiting for that call from the Consortium of Evil any day now.
Readers get to experience a week in the work life of the very strange Howard Danishefsky. The Robusta Incident at times gets pretty repetitive, as we experience Howard at home waking up, getting to work, working, then going home from work, drinking and going to bed over and over. While the author was wanting to show these five days, the book could’ve used some editing out of some of these repetitive scenes that seem to go nowhere and aren’t really necessary. But weirdness and the need for editing down aside, Fales has a very distinctive voice with her character and the story which will certainly catch the eye of many a reader and hook them till the end.
Originally written on August 3rd, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.
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