Editor’s Note: This review was due for publish on Sunday, April 8. My apologies to Stephen for the delay.
Stephen Hackett’s debut novel, Bartending, is not a lengthy or voluminous affair. It is concise, minimal, and wholeheartedly enjoyable — an aesthetic strikingly akin to that of its source material, the Apple Store.
Easily finished in under an hour, Bartending is a happily consumable treatise into the psychological, physical, and emotional environment teeming beneath the famous wood and aluminium-laced experience. Although not revelatory in its nature, Stephen’s anecdotal writing complements his reader’s presumably mature comprehension of the Apple retail world. Accordingly, Bartending facilitates delightful insight into the nature of the Cupertino-based behemoth, all the while foregoing the endlessly dull pitfalls of typical business writing.
Following the untimely death of Steve Jobs, superficial literature spewed onto the marketplace — each author lifelessly discussing the personality, strategy, and nature of Apple as a company. Few dared, however, to contend with the face of the company, the so-called “front line” of Apple’s successes. Moreover, few chose to lend any semblance of personality to their writing — their lengthy books reading as little more than regurgitated facts and figures.
In this void, Stephen introduces Bartending.
Not for a lack of trying, companies around the world have attempted — unsuccessfully — to emulate the vast successes of Apple’s iconic retail chain. Whether it’s the personal service, the general aesthetic, or the overarching sense of personable welcoming, the Apple Store is a unique and (thus far) unparalleled experience for the average customer. And yet, beneath the cleanliness and aluminium lies a path less travelled by the average analyst and writer.
Therein lies the relevance and importance of Bartending.
Although brief, Stephen’s colloquial and conversational tone reminds the reader of the nature and core value system of Apple. In under an hour, you walk away with an endlessly re-readable piece of literature and invaluable insight into the heart of an experience so many have come to sorely embrace.
Digestible, easily revisited, and affable in tone, Bartending is a pleasure to behold.
Tales of infuriating customers, shattered screens, aging Macs, and genuinely odd people serve to underline and emboss the powerful undercurrent of people beneath Apple’s glossy veneer. Insofar as Stephen chips away at Apple’s gleaming exterior and provides a casual peak into the inner-workings of the company, Bartending is fantastically valuable, interesting, and fun. Unimpeded by desires to expand and deliver upon broader analyses into Apple’s supply-chain, manufacturing, or marketing doublespeak, Stephen’s novel provides something unexpectedly youthful, memorable, and open.
Bartending is available for $8.99 (Amazon and E-Junkie ePub) and it supports a valuable writer, a father, and an aspirational novelist. Perhaps this is only Stephen’s first foray into the multi-faceted world of literature but, if his diction, message, and knack for concise expression is any indication, I imagine we have a great deal more to look forward to.
As an aside, Bartending was made available to Stephen’s subscribing members late last week — several days ahead of the book’s formal release. Such is the nature of Stephen’s care for his supporters. You can become a member of 512 Pixels here.