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Book Review: The MineFields by Steven G. Eisner

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Steven G. Eisner knows the ad business. His new book, The MineFields, is perhaps the best fictional book I’ve read about the advertising agency industry since Elia Kazan’s The Arrangement, the late 1960’s number one best seller. While the movie, starring Kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway, did not successfully capture the book’s brilliance, it was engaging enough to compel me to buy the book. It was the book that hooked me on the ad business, in much the same way that The MineFields has hooked me on the writing of Steven G. Eisner.

Eisner’s writing is eloquent and provocative, particularly when he is exploring the issues of Jewish identity in America; in this, he could be kin to Philip Roth. The MineFields, is also reminiscent of the television drama “Madmen,” effectively capturing the bizarre behavior of those odd individuals who populate the agency world, especially the “creative types.”

The author’s tale of a small, insignificant local agency set in Philadelphia is at the center of this business-themed novel. But the satellite stories of Jews in America, the effects of the Holocaust on their struggles to find their place in their new country, the dynamics of father and son/husband and wife relationships in a family business, mid-life crisis, and aging parents provide a riveting and relevant reading experience on many levels.

Eisner is able to adroitly weave his interconnected stories into a tightly woven, tapestry of vignettes and anecdotes. He also does a splendid job playing our emotions as he leads us on the winding, unpredictable path from his atypical childhood, through stunning life changing events in his early and mid-life adulthood. But Eisner is at his best when writing about anecdotes and reflections on being Jewish in America. On this subject, as alluded to earlier, Eisner gets it right and is indeed worthy of comparisons with Philip Roth. His insights, as reflected by what he has chosen to share with the reader, are both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, but all are sensitively and lovingly penned.

The MineFields by Steven G. Eisner is an exceptionally well-written book. An Independent Publishers Book Award Winner, it offers further proof – if any is really needed – that the ranks of talented, notable writers in the independently published segment of the industry is becoming a mother lode of excellence. You need know nothing about the Jewish faith or the advertising industry, to enjoy and be engaged by The MineFields. It’s not really about either of those subjects. What The MineFields is truly about are two questions everyone in the world would like the answers to – Who am I? Why am I here?

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