A Critic's Meta-Review: 4/5
Edgar Rice Burroughs is most commonly known for his creation of one of the most iconic figures in American pop culture, Tarzan of the Apes, it is impossible to overstate his influence on popular literature after his enormously winning pulp novels stormed the public's imagination. The Efficiency Expert was often overlooked by Burroughs' fans when first published, despite the captivating story of Jimmy Torrance, an upstanding college graduate in post-World War I Chicago who inadvertently rubs shoulders with mobsters and ends up framed for murder. This fun little book offers a completely different setting than those usually associated with Burroughs as there’s no jungle, alien planet or lost world to be found. Burroughs’ talent as a writer and subtle humour is given the chance to shine through in The Efficiency Expert, making it a must-read for any fan of the author.
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Published in 1921, The Efficiency Expert is a novella written by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Efficiency Expert is one of the small numbers of Burroughs’ works that takes place in contemporary America as opposed to a fantasy universe. The book follows the story of Jimmy Torrance as he attempts to make a name for himself in 1920’s Chicago. Often recognized for the criminal livelihoods of Torrance’s friends, the book was admitted to be a fictionalization of Burroughs’ own difficulties in finding a job before he became a full-time writer. Though written in 1919, it was first published in the October 1921 edition of the All-Story Weekly magazine. The first book publication wasn’t made until 1966 by the House of Greystoke.
The Efficiency Expert follows the story of Jimmy Torrance, defined as a socialite, athlete and all-around Big Man On Campus, as he is nearly kicked out of university, pleads for a second chance, and eventually graduates. After declining an offer from his father to come work for the family business, he determines to make something of himself first and moves to Chicago. After failing to find work, his friendship with a pickpocket, known as "The Lizard'', encourages him to keep searching and he eventually finds work in a department store. He then makes the acquaintance of a young lady of quality, Elizabeth Compton. Over the course of the book, Torrance gains (and loses) a number of jobs in rapid succession, including ladies' hosiery clerk, waiter, boxer, and milkman, as a chance to meet with Elizabeth.