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Richard M. Baker, Jr. effectively packed Suit on an Empty Chair with characters and situations reflective of his true-to-life experiences to make a moral point. A departure from his other novels, this fictionalized, autobiographical story included the safeguard: “Neither the business nor the financial institution described herein exist nor have they ever existed. All names, characters and events in this novel are fictional and any resemblance to real people, living or dead is purely coincidental.”
Baker deals with a time in his life when he pursued accounting – a full decade before engaging his creative side as a novelist. And while he cringed at the thought of re-examining the time he worked hard to get away from, he wrote Suit on an Empty Chair in tribute to the human condition known as boredom, personified in the book by Jack Taylor, an accountant unable to connect with his profession. Through Jack, Baker exposes the psychological, physical, and social problems that arise when any number of occupations are ill-suited to the man.
As such, the author did not intend Suit on an Empty Chair to be an angry outcry against a particular profession. By prophetically exploring the consequential nature of workplace monotony, Baker was onto a bigger message; that frustration, lethargy, envy, regret, tedium may influence destructive, sensation-seeking behavior. Junior accountant, Jack Taylor breaks loose in a bid for excitement, pleasure, elation, even immoral fantasy in this exposé of a society driven to misbehave when the acceptable becomes dreary.
Suit on an Empty Chair sits uncomfortably between conformity and rebellion – the struggle between staying-the-course and feeling alive. As William Wordsworth wrote in the early 19th century: “Bliss was it that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven”. To stir his dormant vitality, Jack gives in to lust for youthful freedom and intrigue.