Book review: My Work Is Not Yet Done

Thomas Ligotti’s My Work Is Not Yet Done is a book that was recommended by several readers on Quarter to Three and I’m always willing to try a new author, so I gave it a go recently. The experience was a bit confusing, not because of Ligotti’s prose, but rather the borked formatting of the Kobo ebook version I was reading, which presented incorrect jumps to the wrong chapter or section. Fortunately the table of contents worked properly and I was able to complete the book without going totally mad.

The heart of the book is a short novel in which the protagonist faces off against seven other ‘swine’ in an office where he correctly figures himself the lowest of the low. He ultimately plots revenge against his co-workers via copious amounts of gunfire but when he suddenly finds himself with supernatural powers he plots out more (extremely) grisly and imaginative ends to the people who demean and mock him. The story is told in the first person and the time spent in Frank Dominio’s mind is at turns fascinating and amusing but ultimately without reward. None of the primary characters in the story are remotely likable.

Ligotti does a good job keeping a consistent and clear tone with the narrative. You may not like Dominio but you will understand him and the frustrations he feels, even as you remain unconvinced that he is not just, as he fears he will be remembered, a kook. More broadly, My Work Is Not Yet Done serves as a philosophical statement on the corporate realm, its inhabitants constantly referred to as swine, its goals and purpose consistently derided. The frank exchanges between the characters in their numerous meetings are simultaneously amusing and depressing.

I enjoyed the craft of the story more than the actual story itself. I’ve not read Ligotti before and have heard this collection may not be fully representative of his work. He is a fine writer but My Work Is Not Yet Done is unrelentingly bleak. The sarcastic, droll observations of Dominio lighten the tone but only slightly. Still, I can’t deny Ligotti’s imagination and skill, so I may seek out some of his other work.

Just not right away.

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