"Floyd Kemske is drawing the surreal map of the modern workplace.
Every spot is marked, 'You Are Here,' and from it there is no finding your way home."
"Kemske has humorously and humanely welded together farce and postindustrial angst,
with charming results."
"[A]n entertaining look at the tribulations of working stiffs, wherever they toil."
—New York Times Book Review
Labor Day is the stepchild of holidays. It signifies the end of summer. The beginning of school. Going back to work. Everyone's favorite four-letter word is not what we want to celebrate, at least if we have a job.
Floyd Kemske's wryly nightmarish novels don't exactly celebrate work, but his fantasies certainly do get deep into the realities of the lives we lead at work: office politics, reorganizations, the management of people by other people. And they entertain as they disconcert.
Labor Day is Kemske's fourth novel about the business world and his fifth novel overall. A young, unconventional union organizer, Gregg Harsh, has decided to unionize the headquarters staff of a large national union. In order to stop the unionizing effort, the president of the national union, Harvey Lathrop, asks his greatest adversary, union-buster Stillman Colby, to come out of retirement. Colby's wife is fiercely opposed to Colby's donning his business suit again and going out to battle.
In Kemske's hands, what sounds like cut-and-dry drama (or possibly farce) is turned into a darkly comic labor of lies. Each of the characters bases his life on a set of ideals, but it is hard to tell the difference between ideals and desires as the characters manipulate and undermine each other, and sometimes themselves. Beneath the conflict, humor, and passions, Labor Day is sad in its depiction of what people will do to defend and to spread their psychological turf.
$22, 202 pages, ISBN 0-945774-48-6. Also available as an e-book.
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Labor Day by Floyd Kemske is licensed under a
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Praise for the Novels of Floyd Kemske
"Floyd Kemske understands that some of what's going on in corporate America is so horrible
that only fantasy can adequately depict it. He deserves to be read by everyone who has
worked for a company and lived to regret it."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"There is more truth in [The Virtual Boss] than in all the consultants' babble for the next 12 months.
Oh, how I wish they would put him on the cover of Business Week!"
—David Warsh, Business Columnist, Boston Sunday Globe
"The Virtual Boss is a grimly funny parable, a timely novel."
—Los Angeles Times
"Like the best black comedy, Kemske creates worlds of the imagination that make the reader
first laugh, then blanch, and then grasp the painful plausibility."
—Boston Phoenix Literary Supplement
"Kemske, who may have started a new 'management novel' genre with Lifetime Employment, continues in that intriguing vein [in The Virtual Boss], creating the most perfect hell since Dante's Inferno and the most intriguing computer character since HAL in 2001."
"[Human Resources is] a wonderfully ambiguous and deliciously wicked tale
leavened by humor in a jugular vein."
"This tale of the Enlightenment's bitter end [The Third Lion] finds an apt teller in Kemske, who brings the irony and psychological acuity that his formidable protagonist demands."
"Told in a dry, matter-of-fact way, [Lifetime Employment] is a black comedy,
both hilarious and horrifying."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"There are shades of Orwell, Kafka, and Woody Allen's Sleeper in The Virtual Boss.
Its scathing assessment of the corporate mentality is dead-on."
"[The Virtual Boss is] a terrific read that crosses boundaries and will appeal to readers of all stripes."
—Boston Sunday Herald.