Monday, 9 November 2009

e by Matt Beaumont

A rare example of a zeitgeist book that still stands up ten years after the initial hype, e is an epistolary novel written entirely in e-mails between various employees of dysfunctional advertising agency Miller Shanks.

It’s the first day back of the new year, 2000. Miller Shanks are after a contract with Coca Cola and the London office has two weeks to prove themselves. It’s a cinch - naturally the firm is staffed by professional creatives, not drunken buffoons still hungover from the Millennium jollies:

Our Millenniums in brief. Mine’s a total blank – woke up in a skip in Poplar at five am, 1 Jan, but had a spectacular view of the Dome as I leaned over the edge to puke. Vin was in Berlin and was so depraved he can’t bring himself to tell me what he got up to. On the way back he was gutted that the Y2K bug didn’t kick in and make the Airbus drop from the sky – figures the adrenaline rush would’ve worked wonders for his hangover.

The impending Coke deadline isn’t the only cloud on horizon. Half of the office are off to Mauritius to film an advert for ‘adult’ TV channel, LOVE. The team makes sure that they get to the airport safely:

What happened to you on Friday night? Did you get off with that Bosnian barmaid? Vin was so wasted he nearly didn’t make the flight. Had to put him through crash detox in the Heathrow club lounge.

After an imploding breast implant, heatstroke and a waterski accident do for the hired team of glamour models imported for the shoot, they film an advert that could have been made in the office car park back in London. Unfortunately not before the client manages to assault Gloria Hunniford, out in the islands filming a holiday programme. The press are on to them like a shot:

We’ve had the Sun snapper on our verandah taking shots of us through the window. Doesn’t look good – the contents of the mini-bar are scattered on the bed and Vin is comatose on the floor in nothing but a Fat Slags T-shirt.

If that sounds bad, wait until the Creative Director’s taste for ladyboys loses the firm the Coke contract...


  1. David Crutton is an impossible monster, but Simon Horne is by far my favourite character in this fantastic read!

    I LOVE this book, more than life itself.

  2. Ah, Simon Horne... or should I say 'As Seen On TV'.

    It's his total lack of self awareness that tickled me. 'Just ask yourself. Is it a gold?'

    I once had to work for someone cut from similar cloth as Horne. The experience was mortifying...

  3. Yes, I can't wait to read the sequel. If only some kind-hearted soul would lend it to me.. nudge, nudge