‘Businessmen are the new revolutionaries.’

In the irritating half rain/half hail falling on Temple Bar I arrived for the tail end (or is that tale end?) of a book launch at Anthology Books in Meeting House Square this evening. The book? Aisling Ltd by Sean Harnett, a first and most enjoyable novel which arrived as an advanced reader’s copy on my desk in the Irish Times a few months back. Following a tentative enquiry from publisher Hag’s Head Press (part of Lilliput), I’d agreed to have a look at what was somewhat worryingly described in the advance bumf as ‘the first major literary work to dissect the excitement, idealism and hubris that fed the Celtic Tiger.’ The reason they wanted to send it to me was the eponymous Aisling Ltd is a tech consultancy full of resentful programmers, an overweaning, nasty CFO, a self-styled visionary CEO dubbed ‘the buddha of irish business’ by the Irish media, and prone to spouting new age marketing mantras, and a dislikeable central character hired as a Content Specialist.

In other words, my kind of novel. Still, I was a bit apprehensive settling in with it one evening when I thought I’d better dig in so I could get it off the ‘to do’ list. Instead, I found it a very compelling and fun read from a new writer who shows great promise in this first venture. Anyone who worked in or around the tech industry from the 90s to noughties will enjoy this novel and recognise the world Harnett creates — and have a few sniggers too. Harnett captures the atmosphere and the undercurrent of nastiness and paranoia as the boom went bust very well.

I had one specific reason for wanting to attend the launch. Besides wanting to say hello to the mysterious Sean, I was dying to find out who he’d worked for on the tech front as his bio on the cover is coyly vague. The reason I wanted to know who he worked for is to try and see who he’d modelled his egomaniac guru CEO Lawrence Cooley after… if anybody in particular! Well, Sean told me who he’d worked for (several companies with an Irish dotcom profile) and I laughed — that explained some things, for sure. He also told me the central inspiration for Larry — but if I told you, well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Have a read of Aisling Ltd and have a guess; I’m not ruining the fun!

1 Comment so far

  1. Sabne Raznik (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2006 @ 3:59 am

    So you work with the Irish Times? This intrigues me. What is it like to work with a newspaper, and such a large one at that? Do you find it tiring or stimulating? Do you often get to meet “personalities”, like literary figures and celebrities? What was your favorite “personality” to date?

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