by Ron Sturgeon, Illustrated by Gahan Wilson Mike French Publishing, 2005, 319 pp., $28.95 (paperback)
A dictionary of more than 1,200 terms and phrases used in business-speak today, this is certainly comprehensive. If you don't know what "mouse milking" or "deal fatigue" is, it will tell you (mouse milking is "a project or venture that requires maximum effort for minimum returns," whereas deal fatigue is the point in long business negotiations where the participants "feel like they do not care whether the deal is done or not.")
On the other hand, how many of us really would go out of our way to look up these definitions if we chanced to hear them? At most, we might Google them.
This wouldn't be a problem if the book were entertaining, but the entertainment quotient is sporadic. Many of the definitions are too literal to be funny and, inexplicably, Sturgeon includes well-worn cliches like "acid test," "spinning our wheels" and "smoke and mirrors." Is there really anyone out there who doesn't know what a "yes man" is?
There is also a certain sententiousness to some of the definitions. In explaining "mouse milking," he feels the need to explain that "it's nearly impossible to milk mice and you won't get much out of it." Thanks for clearing that up, Ron.