Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman (Pub date September 2011)
Anyone who’s ever wanted to do something creative for a living will likely have a ‘dreams v. responsibility’ crisis at some point in their life. Is it better to stay with the job you hate because it’s safe, or should you give it up for a chance to live your life the way you’ve always wanted? It’s a feeling I can certainly relate to, as I am currently lingering in corporate hell waiting to finish my degree.
Domestic Violets is a novel about choosing the road less travelled. Our protagonist, Tom Violet, is a man living in his famous father’s shadow, working at a mindless job while secretly working on his Great American Novel. At the same time he’s plagued by the suspicion that his wife is having an affair, while also dealing with his womanizing father showing up at his house for an extended stay. Things come to a head when the subversive Tom decides to make a daring move that shocks those around him and sets his life on a different course.
The best thing about Domestic Violets is the writing style. With a biting wit, Matthew Norman expresses Tom’s feelings of frustration and resentment as he goes through his near-midlife crisis. And Norman’s descriptions of corporate absurdity are downright hysterical:
“The team of mouthbreathing goons in IT couldn’t monitor the broad side of a barn. I could be buying plutonium from the Libyans on http://www.jihad.org right now and no one would know the difference as long as I kept staring straight ahead like a good hardworking employee.”
This book captures perfectly the sense of despair and bitterness that often affect creative people stuck in the hamster wheel of corporate America. It reminds me slightly of Fight Club, although not quite as bold.
This is an enjoyable book. It’s not the most original story I’ve ever read, and a little predictable, but the humor and snappy dialog make it worth reading. Anyone with a weird family, a boring job, or a desire to change their life will find it relatable.