The surreal office tale: Christina Neuwirth’s ‘Amphibian’
You may have seen Christina Neuwirth in the viral sensation of last year, 404 Ink’s Nasty Women. Amphibian, published by with Glasgow-based indie Speculative Books, is her first solo venture in the form a sweet, succinct novella, in which Rose, whose general lust for life seems dampened by the overwhelmingly demanding (and often hilariously bizarre) world of MonthTownCashGrowth – your typical bonds, trusts and promises sales company.
Due to some shockingly poor performance results, the irreverent management at MoneyTownCashGrowth decide, as a sales incentive, to slowly, over the course of a fortnight or so, to fill the fourth floor with water.
Haven’t we all been there?
No? Well Neuwirth brings us there, effortlessly. The impossibly calamitous strategic measure doesn’t feel quite as surreal or ridiculous as it should. It’s just standard. Just another week. Rather than wallowing in the tidy metaphor of literal drowning in work, Amphibian goes a step further to pull us into the believability of its world as the office staff try, in their most diplomatic, office politics way, to respond. Their requests for lockers, changing rooms and the ability to wear “suitable work attire” (e.g. wetsuits) is met with derision as they’re forced to adjust to work-life by using only one specific elevator to save the higher-ups from getting wet and fretting if the electrics have been, somehow, proofed against the increasing rise in tide.
In a world where austerity sits beneath us like a hidden trapdoor waiting to open, while increasing numbers see the old adage of suffering through a loveless corporate position to get by become reality, the overwhelmingly normal reaction of MoneyTownCashGrowth’s staff to a completely ridiculous situation is depressingly accurate.
Written with an unputdownable sense of craft and a refreshing style, Neuwirth has penned a fine debut that will make you eager for her next venture.
A short, sweet, relatable and refreshing debut – I highly recommend it.