Tag Archives: family businesses

* Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Number One Chinese Restaurant stars an immigrant family who owns a Chinese restaurant, of course, while one of the sons wants to strike out on his own and build something more fancy. There’s a difficult mother, the memory of a controlling father, a mafia-like figure, and a large case of waiters that complicate all decisions and actions. There’s a fire and a difficult opening night, and lots of behind-the-scenes intrigues. I did not find any of it very exciting.

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Filed under New fiction

** The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise

The Emperor of Shoes is a young American who is poised to inherit a shoe factory from his father, but wants to change the direction of the company from safe and staid white labels to a new line. At the same time, he is in love with one of the workers who is organizing the workers to demand safer work conditions and better pay. Obvious contradictions need to be resolved, and cultural misunderstandings abound. It’s a debut novel, and a promising one.

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Filed under New fiction

* The Wangs Vs. The World

The Wangs Vs. The World attempts to be a madcap road trip of a freshly bankrupted family from its no-longer home in Los Angeles to upstate New York, where the older daughter lives in a house that may be the only asset that escaped repossession. The five members of the family are appropriately different to generate all kinds of adventures, but I found it very difficult to find  the tediously spoiled younger daughter, the romantically confused, hipster older daughter, the financially ambitious stepmother, the stereotypical entrepreneur-father, or even the sweet, sentimental son.

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Filed under New fiction

*** Original Sin by P.D. James

Original Sin takes us inside a family owned book publisher where lots of people are dying, some suspicisouly enough to demand an investigation from Adam Dalgliesh and team. The setting, an incongruous Venetian palace on the banks of the Thames, lends mystery and gloominess to the mounting corpse count and in the end it will be a very complex personal revenge story that will tie together the murders. Prepare to be deliciously afraid.

 

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Filed under Mystery

** Factory Man by Beth Macy


I enjoyed Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town — but not so much because of the offshoring theme, which I thought was full of (boring to me) legal battles. The best part of the story for me was that of the Bassett family, from the founder of the eponymous furniture manufacturing company to his great-grand-son. Along the way lie political lobbying to get the all-important railroad close to the factory; the complicated family matters of a man who fathered children with “the help”; the ugly racial history of a company that employed African Americans (at a time when most would not) but placed them in the worst jobs, at a lower pay; the damage that unchecked consultants with alluring “vision” can wreak on an old-fashioned family business; and the brutal family intrigues that favored a son-in-law over a son (sad that the daughter being favored through the son-in-law should probably have been the one to inherit the business!), and one cousin over another. Juicy!

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Filed under True story

* Balance by Nik Wallenda


Balance: A Story of Faith, Family, and Life on the Line is the story of  a most unusual family business: the business of aerial performing. This is a business in which your childhood memories may include watching your grandfather fall to his death and watching your parents struggle financially even if they are the best at what they do, just because entertainment choices have changed with the advent of TV and other options. And it’s a business in which the author has thrived because of his willingness and ability to create big challenges (such as walking across the Niagara Falls) and to arrange complex financing and PR for them. That part of the story I found very interesting.

The rest, not so much. The organization of the materials and the writing is rather awkward. And the faith part of the story grated on me: every good thing is God’s gift, but somehow every misadventure, and there are many of them, has nothing to do with God. What a convenient arrangement.

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Filed under True story

** Brick by Brick by David Robertson

Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry is awkwardly constructed as a book-length consulting case study, all the more awkward since the very same rules of innovation were apparently followed before near-catastrophic failure and after it (showing that so-called best practices are not so best after all). That being said, if you are likely to find Legos in your purse, or under your dangerously bare feet, or you just remember those days, the history of the LEGO empire, from its humble beginnings as a wood (!) toy manufacturer to todays’ high-tech Mindstorms should be enjoyable, minus the management consulting jargon…

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Filed under Non fiction