Award-winning author Herbert Lobsenz has returned to the publishing world with his latest novel Succession (Zumaya Publications, 2008), the story of an aspiring writer, Jake Garrison, who finds himself in the alienating corporate world of the 1960s’ America. While Jake struggles to hold on to his sanity amidst the materialistic pressures of his workplace, the inner conflict with his doubts over his wife’s fidelity and his own integrity silently push him to the darkness of distrust. Only later would he realize that his response to the antagonist forces was overly fueled by his deep-seated fears.
Lobsenz creates an intriguing story for his book. His construction of the plot is compact and somewhat intricate; more poised on the side of the corporate mania rather than the main character’s personal development. There are some weaknesses in the book that may distract an average reader from getting the most of its pleasure and gist. The story takes a sharp start with a captivating hook but soon looses the balance of Jake’s character and, at times, Jake becomes almost non-existent in the plot. Lack of continuity in the story and a rushed conclusion interfere with the novel’s impact as something enjoyable with a clear meaningful message.
On the positive side, Succession opens up a window of thought against the senseless world of business where one has to tread one’s kind, even one’s own friends and family, for making profit. Jake’s watchword ‘never show pain’ is a manifestation of the fears associated with the race for survival in the ever-tightening capitalist society. On the whole, Succession is a poignant and disturbing book, recommended only for a limited audience i.e. men who can enjoy a tale of the business world back in the 1960s.