Peter Mattei’s satirical workplace novel The Deep Whatsis (Other Press, July 2013) opens with as much bravado, shallowness, and male swagger as the page will allow. Mattei’s protagonist, Eric Nye, is the Chief Idea Officer of the Tate advertising agency. His main function is to fire employees that are considered “dead wood”. He enjoys his job, and actively cultivates an environment of fear and “sycophancy” around the office. Nye complains of problems that others may wish for; young beautiful women fixate on him, he is too rich, too powerful, and his dick is always a little too hard. Initially, The Deep Whatsis, seems like a familiar ground; a talentless, well-bread Manhattanite, has risen to the top ranks of corporate America by lying, cheating, and conniving. Subtly and skillfully the author reveals a deeper and more complex character in Nye. Hidden just beneath his alpha male persona is where the true drama of this novel exists. Nye’s strong pseudointellectual opinions and Howard Roark inspired corporate agenda slowly fall away. A person wholly unaware of his own fragility emerges. That is not to say Nye has a sensitive soul longing to get out, quite the opposite. Nye has repressed his feelings, and denied his pain for so long that he finds he cannot process the simplest of emotions. Beneath the well quaffed and manicured exterior lays a damaged and twisted psyche. Reluctantly, Nye, finds himself at an emotional critical mass. Through drugs, alcohol, and other distractions he attempts to quiet his inner struggle, but a budding infatuation with beautiful young intern disarms him. Nye does his best to refuse her advances and maintain the status quo, but she is undeterred. What follows is a beautifully rendered nervous breakdown. The Deep Whatsis, for all its wit and charm, is a sober account of a man falling apart.