Helen DeWitt's Lightning Rods is a workplace satire for the age of sexual harassment
by Helen DeWitt
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Helen DeWitt’s second novel explores Oscar Wilde’s advice: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” Lightning Rods is a modest proposal for dealing with the sexual urges of “high-testosterone performance-oriented individuals” in the workplace. And a hilarious mirror of our culture’s ability to rationalize any kind of behavior, as long as it boosts the bottom line.
Our hero, Joe, is a failed encyclopedia and vacuum-cleaner salesman. His territory is Middle America and then Florida, generic landscapes of 7-Elevens, interchangeable neighborhoods, and office parks. Noting that he wastes too much time on his X-rated fantasies when he should focus on “getting ahead,” he realizes there could be a vast demand for sexual satisfaction on the job—the perfect way to increase morale and productivity.
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