Auk Word logo
Wire Wrap, front cover of book

Wire Wrap

In Wire Wrap by John Westling we are invited to enter a world of human relationships and conflict set amongst the unreliable automation of an industry on the cusp of the electronics revolution. Engineering talent, obstructive bosses and stress hormones combine in a melting pot of emotion as the stakes steadily rise.

As an art form, The Play or Drama has existed for millennia. Though the definition may have changed through the ages, modern forms of drama, such as the soap opera or fly on the wall documentary, continue to entertain billions of people, but what is it about these seemingly mundane depictions of everyday life that grips us so? Why do so many people prefer them to bizarre and other worldly tales?

Most likely, it is the one thing we and they all have in common: the human condition. We are fascinated to see how, when forced to live together, people with contradictory goals and motivations cope with life, love and their own mortality. The more disparate the people involved, the greater the entertainment. Consequently, it stands to reason that the greatest drama must come from pressing together the greatest variety of people into the closest proximity and what in the real world is more effective at this than modern industry?

Long before ever becoming an engineer myself, Arthur Hailey’s industrial drama Wheels introduced me to the world of large scale manufacture. Tales ‘from the shop floor’ have fascinated me ever since.

Wire Wrap, front cover of book

As the technical challenges and personal conflicts intensified,…

Overall, despite my personal tastes, I found this book a struggle to enjoy. Though the prose tend to be a little clunky, this is the least of its problems.

  • Sexism – Though I appreciate that the manufacturing industry of the late 60’s and early 70’s was indeed overflowing with sexism and bigotry, this book simply fails in its depiction. Rather than offering a neutral viewpoint and then letting the reader draw their own conclusions, this book is simply a mess. Whilst portraying half the men as misogynistic pigs (and preaching about how bad this is) the lead protagonist is continuously objectifying women based on appearance. Not only is the very first thing we learn about each new female character how hot and sexy (or not) they are, but the same phrases get repeated every single time they re-enter the room. At times, it read like an eternal soft porn intro where the actors never actually progress to ‘doing the dirty’. By the end, such phrases as ‘a really hot body’, ‘her gorgeous curves’ and ‘long sexy legs’ had become so common place as to have lost all meaning for me. On the other hand, the only female character that the protagonist doesn’t make friends with happens to also be the only over weight woman portrayed in the book….. draw your own conclusions from that.
  • Narrative flow – In many ways, this book reads more like a memoir of ill sorted recollections and anecdotes than a self sufficient novel. Time and again, situations are presented that promise to build to a climax of tension that is subsequently never resolved. At the same time, the story often gets side-tracked into random dead ends that neither serve the main plot arc nor develop the characters in any significant way. Ironically for a story about technology and engineering, at times it was so muddled and confused as to completely forsake the principles of cause and effect.
  • The ending – Though the first half of the booked dragged a little it delivered a mid range 3 star performance. As the technical challenges and personal conflicts intensified, the second half of the story progressively lifted the book ever closer to a low end 4 star result overall. Then the ending happened. As there is very little I can say about the ending without spoiling absolutely everything for others, suffice it to say, it utterly destroyed all the hard work done up to this point. The finale left me feeling so insulted and cheated that it was only through an act of great self-control that I could suppress my vengeful impulse to give it a two stars, or worse, review.

In the end, this book just scrapes three stars overall. If you do decide to give it a try because, like me, you are:

  • A. nerdy enough to enjoy the technical descriptions and the methods employed to solve engineering challenges;
  • B. red blooded enough to the enjoy the concept of competent co-workers also being sexually attractive,

In the end, this book just scrapes three stars overall. Please leave a short comment to let me know what you think about my review.
Even better, if you have already read it, let me know if you agree with my assessment or if you think I have grossly misrepresented something, but do remember NO SPOILERS! We don’t want to ruin it for others.

Find out more about John Westling and his books at:

No Comments

Post a Comment