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DOT-COM TONIC

That absurdity makes 21 Dog Years a great testament to the irrational exuberance of the dot-com era. Daisey signed on at Amazon as a last resort after a string of temp jobs and low-paying acting gigs. The book's best passages tingle with tension as Daisey watches himself fall for the new-economy talk he knows is jive. "There was the Old World, and the New World, and a war was coming in which Amazon would play a vital role, vanquishing bad, brick-and-mortar corporations," Daisey writes. "We began to believe that by supporting Amazon.com we would be helping to crush chains and monopolies and faceless bureaucracies. We were hopelessly naïve."

Not that Daisey ever became slavish in his devotion. For one, he wasn't particularly good at his job. He improved his average response time by hanging up on callers immediately after greeting them. He sent unordered books to random people in Norway for kicks. He avoided being fired only by being promoted, thanks to a study he did on the customer-service response times of competitors - a study that used faked data.

What Daisey slowly came to realize, with a perfect mix of horror and mirth, was that it didn't even matter that the report was fiction. "It was only now that I could see that they never cared whether that report was real or not," he writes. "They looked all this over and thought 'This guy knows how to spin, knows how to twist things into shape. This guy can do very well here.' And the worst part was that they were right."

As funny as it is mocking, 21 Dog Years is the perfect tonic for the post-new-economy recession.

21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com
By Mike Daisy
Free Press
$23.00, 222 pages
ISBN: 0743225805

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