The Choice is Ours

Written by Maggie Serota on . Posted in Books, Posts.

The Terrible Horrible Temp-to-Perm Debacle begins with the anti-hero, a 33 year-old, barely functional alcoholic and failing writer, waking up in bed next to a dead woman with no recollection of what happened the night before. To make matters worse, he’s late for his temp job and has to make the decision as to whether he’s going to accept the permanent position of Executive Assistant to the CEO of a school uniform manufacturer, thus abandoning all hopes of becoming a celebrated novelist. From there, the hapless fellow has to piece together the events of the previous night’s bender, hopefully avoid getting framed for the murder of the woman he woke up next to and choose between EPO or PPO health coverage should he decide to go perm.

Temping is certainly something author and comedian Bob Powers has experience with. Like many New Yorkers with lofty artistic goals, Powers put in his time—a decade to be exact—as a temp before he was finally able to write for a living. This experience lays the groundwork for the second installment (out July 7) in his Choose Your Own Adventure styled Just Make A Choice! series.

“I’ve temped for a bank, an ad agency and The Metro North Police. The most painful assignment was at a finance firm. I had to be in at 7:30 am and had to deal with ‘stock guys.’ They were all these guys that just got out of college and still wanted to be in college.” Powers muses.

However, in Powers’ decade of temping, one has to wonder whether he has come across a boss like the book’s stand-out character Haviland Payne, the lascivious CEO of a school uniform manufacturer who gets her kicks out of seducing men 20 years her junior after making them dress up in schoolboy uniforms.

“Nope, I’ve never had a cougar boss and I’ve never been prey to a cougar. Maybe I just got a kick out of that power structure. I still might be temping if that was going on,” Powers claims.

In addition to becoming his silver fox superior’s boy toy, the anti-hero could become an unwitting gay porn icon, the victim of a gory murder at the hands of a reclusive author or a runaway boarding a mythical bus to pharmacy school—it all depends on what adventure the reader chooses.

“The choices are a good punchline to the chapter,” explains Powers. A prime example of this can be found at the end of a chapter offering the option “If you want to tell Haviland that you absolutely demand she take you home immediately and let you fuck her until she’s limp, go to page 177.”

One of the fringe benefits of publishing the Just Make A Choice is the public readings which involve heavy audience participation.

“The best thing is reading the book live. The audience votes and they go nuts for that,” Powers explains,” I can usually predict how the story will go. If the choice involves sex, the audience will pick it.”

During readings for his first Just Make A Choice! book You Are A Miserable Excuse For A Hero, which involves the anti-hero trying to avoid rescuing a promising first date who was subsequently kidnapped, Powers notes that only one audience didn’t vote for the option of the anti-hero sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. “I was stunned.”

Given that the Powers just sold the movie rights to You Are A Miserable Excuse For A Hero, it is unlikely that he will have to go back to temping to support himself. When asked who he would like to cast as the hapless anti-hero in the first book, Powers is quick to suggest “any of the Jud Apatow man children that Hollywood is crawling with.”

Given all of the possible endings and serpentine plot twists for his Just Make A Choice! books, the reader could very well not experience all of the endings, no matter how depraved many of them may be.

“You know, one day I’m gonna write a novel or a book where the intention is that you are supposed to read every page,” Powers muses,” Provided the reader doesn’t think it sucks.”

>Bob Powers
July 8, Barnes & Noble, 396 6th Ave. (at W. 8th St.), 212-674-8780; 7:30, FREE