Beauty by Frederick Dillen is a hopeful little book, drenched in all the optimism its title suggests. This is the story of capitalism falling in love with community, the tale of a fisherman totally unversed in corporate sexual harassment policies falling in love, and deep down at its heart a book about claiming that little bit of space you always knew you needed but never realized was right there, waiting for you, to call it home. It is an odd combination of corporate-love-fishing story, but short and sweet enough to make it all palatable.
A tall, no-frills firing machine, corporate undertaker Carol McLean looks factory workers in the eye as she tells them their jobs are lost. The sneering men who run her firm call her “the Beast,” an unwanted nickname none too affectionately parroted by those she leaves jobless and disassembled in her wake. Despite the humanity she struggles to bring to her job of seeing companies through their last days, it is brutal and wearing. When Carol gets the ironic call that she too is being let go, her final undertaking flips from a mission in disassembly to a project in keeping the small fish processing plant going as her own company. With dreamy fisherman Easy by her side, Carol steps out of her role as the Beast and tries to use her business-savvy for good.
If Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End was the modern corporate worker’s swan song, a final cry of agony from the suffering cubicle-everyman before he came back to the office with a gun or a stress-related illness, then Beauty is the corporate worker’s battle cry, of taking the power back and making googly eyes at your love interest, all at the same time.