Lewis Caroll's classic tale of Alice Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 and is still a favorite among young readers. Most of us will remember this children's story as a tale filled with satire references to the author's friends and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize.
R.T. Talasek has now reincarnated this famous tale with his loose adaptation, Alice In Corporate Wonderland: Down The Long Hallway. Talasek informs us in the Prologue that hopefully the reader will realize that the similarities between the two stories are frightening, with some allowances for the passage of time and change of venue. It should be pointed out that Talasek worked in the corporate world for over twenty-five years and the story draws from this experience.
Talasek's Alice is studying towards her MBA degree at Ivy League University and one day while preparing herself for her final exams, she falls asleep. In dreamland Alice meets up with a woman dressed in a white linen suit and matching white shoes, who towers over her. Alice is quite perturbed! Who is this woman, whom she compares to a rabbit with her "floppy hair ears." Moreover, Alice does not know if she herself works in this building or why is she here. Finally, Alice is informed by the woman that she is the senior assistant to the president and people call her WR.
Alice is instructed to follow WR to her first meeting and that Wonderland Industries values punctuality. WR tells Alice what Wonderland Industries is all about however Alice admits she has no idea what WR is talking about, as the descriptions and jargon she hears make little sense. Unfortunately, Alice can't keep up with WR and looses her in the corridors. Feeling abandoned and confused Alice is now left to find her way to her first meeting.
No one is around to aid her and the windowless hallway seems to go on endlessly. Eventually, Alice runs into a group of seven men singing "Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho, it's off to work we go!" Sound familiar? Are these our seven dwarfs? Only this time they are dressed in Brooks Brothers business suits of varied shades of blue and gray. All of these employees seemed to be programmed and are not exactly sure as to what their respective responsibilities are in Wonderland Industries. Although, they do understand that in order to survive and keep their jobs they must tow the company line, otherwise they will be history.
Alice is finally approached by a short man with thinning hair, large ears and a round head, who beckons Alice to a room filled with row after row of steel desks, badly in need of paint. He tells Alice that he has been looking all over for her and that her help is needed, as she definitely is management by the way she is dressed and they need a management representative as a sponsor. Again, Alice is perplexed, as she has no idea what Mr. Mouse (Alice's nickname for the gentleman) is talking about.
As we follow Alice during her first chaotic day of work, we have to ask ourselves how do you rationally expect employees to grasp and understand America's ambiguous corporate "la la" land where there are sometimes vague norms, values and expectations that supposedly are to serve as unifying the workforce and strengthen a company's success. The characters that make up this corporate world are very often bizarre and "off the wall" with little or no direction.
New and even old employees constantly face the taunting challenge of comprehending both the norms of the company as well as communicating in a somewhat new language while adapting to a sometimes ambiguous culture.
Conveying thoughts, ideas, beliefs and feelings to another individual is never an easy task. Some authors choose the straight forward method and others rely on various techniques as allegory, parables, symbolism, metaphor, and irony in an effort to reach their readers.
Talasek has succeeded admirably in conveying his thoughts and feelings pertaining to corporate America's madness with the clever use of Carroll's characters and the loose similarity with the original story line.
Reviewer:Norm Goldman, Editor Bookpleasures.com