Imagine a company that installs locks in clouds or builds skyscrapers in the image of their clients. Imagine a business whose sole purpose is to provide you with the exact pencil you need or a catering company so ambitious that it offers to cater your exact moments of personal revelation, no matter how small or large. These are the endeavours of the protagonist in Mathias Svalina’s inventive and enjoyable novella, I am a Very Productive Entrepeneur. Svalina not only aims to make the unimaginable imaginable but he also vies to commoditize the indefinable. The impossibility of some of these pursuits seem almost Borgesian, and are just as playful and fun to read.
Although it is a novella, the book can really be read in any order. Each page or other page starts with the same line, “I started this one business…” and then the narrator takes you through his most ambitious failures and successes. He tries to fill the needs of the mega rich and the commoner alike. What do you get for the billionaire that has everything? How about a star? Not just naming a star after them but literally creating a star out of gasses and dust and then igniting it in a plasmic explosion. Yours to enjoy for billions of years. For those of us in the middle class, there is a company that takes you on a guided tour of your own neighbourhood. Imagine the look on your own face as the double-decker bus passes your house. You’ll be able to wave to all your friends and take a bow as you tell them all that’s where you live! Where some people see a void, Svalina sees opportunity. The narrator’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive on every page.
I am a Very Productive Entrepreneur is a book you want to read over and over again. Just open a random page and read it aloud to whoever happens to be in the room at the time. I laughed out loud when I read about the company that paints your car a different colour each night and I got chills when I thought about the possibility of a business who offered sugar water to parents who had just lost a child- to offer them at least one sweet thing each day. Unfortunately, they could never get the water sweet enough though. Svalina is an excellent salesmen and he’s an even better writer. He shows the reader what’s possible and then they immediately want it and then they want more. They can’t get enough. His prose are light and nimble and poetic. I highly recommend it. Buy it, read it, share it, read it again.