Cover image for You look nice today : a novel
You look nice today : a novel
Bing, Stanley.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury, 2003.
Physical Description:
291 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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From the best-selling author of Lloyd: What Happened , a brilliant tale about life inside the corporation; how easily such a life can unravel; and whether coming apart is really such a bad thing after all.

Robert Harbert, better known as Harb, is Executive Vice President in charge of Total Quality, a position that confers upon him great powers and a ridiculous expense account. CaroleAnne Winter is the assistant who runs his life. CaroleAnne has always brought something a little offbeat to the workplace, but as anyone at the company will tell you, she is also gorgeous, appealing, and a top-notch office manager.

As observed by our affable, eagle-eyed narrator, Fred Tell, Harb and CaroleAnne develop a relationship that's as affectionate as it is professional. But even Harb can't ignore that CaroleAnne's behavior is increasingly peculiar. At the same time, Harb begins to lose traction in the hierarchy, and suddenly, both he and his Total Quality mandate are vulnerable. It's at this moment that CaroleAnne levels a stunning charge: that she has been the target of an organized campaign of sexual harassment from her first days at the company. The investigation she demands will reach to the highest levels of the corporation. And at the center of the investigation, she insists, must be the greatest offender of all: Harb.

Combining warmth, stinging satire, and humane insight in equal parts, Stanley Bing delivers a hilarious and eminently timely novel, set in a world that everyone who's ever worked for a living will recognize as his or her own.

Author Notes

Stanley Bing A columnist for Fortune, he also works for a huge multinational corporation whose identity is one of the worst-kept secrets in business

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bing, author of three previous novels and a regular columnist for Fortune magazine, spins a brilliant and mesmerizing yarn of the vagaries of corporate life as they occur at the fictional Global Fiduciary Trust Company. Told from the perspective of the company's human resources manager, Fred Tell, the story traces the relationship between Harb, an executive vice president at Global, and his assistant, CarolAnne. Harb and CarolAnne have developed an unusually affectionate working relationship, especially for the button-down corporate world. CarolAnne, who appears to be involved in an abusive relationship, often receives comfort (financial and otherwise) from her boss, who naively--particularly for someone so entrenched in the world of corporate backstabbing--assumes he is just helping out a friend in need. The plot, which starts out a bit slow, really gets into gear as CarolAnne's behavior becomes increasingly more paranoid, and Harb, trapped by the evidence of his own good deeds, finds himself the target of a sexual harassment lawsuit. A riveting and enjoyable story. --Kathleen Hughes Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this sardonic, entertaining legal thriller about a discrimination suit brought against a high-level corporate executive by his administrative assistant, Fortune columnist Bing tells a story of sexual harassment that's not about sex. Robert Harbert, or Harb, executive vice-president of Global Corporation's Total Quality department, falls for gorgeous uber-temp of indeterminate race CaroleAnne Winters, who saves the day on an important project. Recognizing her talent, Harb hires CaroleAnne full-time, but their cordial business relationship quickly grows too cozy: Harb gets CaroleAnne a corporate apartment to help her escape an abusive husband, gives her his aging car and brings her on business trips, which include boozy late nights that stop short of physical intimacy. CaroleAnne's behavior becomes erratic, though, when her spiritual side surfaces and she begins holding prayer meetings with a companion in the company's empty offices. Her tightly wound demeanor in the office is a harbinger of trouble to come, and when Harb tries to diffuse the tension between them by offering CaroleAnne a promotion to a different department, she refuses it, quits her job and sues Harb and the firm for sexual harassment and cultural insensitivity, to the tune of $150 million. The density of detail makes for slow going early in the novel, but the account of the civil trial that follows is a riveting and often hilarious account of CaroleAnne's fabrications and the corporate legal response, with Bing exposing the ways in which seemingly ordinary problems and human foibles take on new dimensions when they hit the legal system. Though the conclusion is a bit of a letdown, this is a great read and Bing's best take to date on how people cope with the political idiosyncrasies of the buttoned-down business world. Author tour; major ad/promo. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The pseudonymous Bing, who is a CBS vice president and a columnist for Fortune magazine, returns to the themes of his first novel, Lloyd, that is, tough times in the corporate machine. Robert Harbert, head of Total Quality management for a multinational conglomerate, is a regular good guy brought low by the delusional machinations of his capable and beautiful assistant, CaroleAnne Winter. From the perspective of Fred Tell, head of human resources, the reader learns that "Harb" took CaroleAnne under his wing, protected her from domestic abuse, and rewarded her with promotions and bonuses. After a time, however, CaroleAnne begins to unravel mentally, suffering unsettling visions and seeking out empty offices in which to chant. She also discerns a hostile environment and brings suit against the corporation and Harb for sexual harassment. During the course of the ensuing trial, the reader is assured by both Tell and the facts that the relationship between CaroleAnne and Harb was never unprofessional. A more interesting story would have employed an unreliable narrator, but that would have been a more difficult novel to write. As it stands, though, the story will ring true with anyone who has had to deal with unbalanced employees. Satirical, well written, and recommended for large fiction collections.-Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Book 1 Carole Annep. 1
Book 2 The Trialp. 93
Book 3 Harbp. 181