The anonymous, middle-aged narrator of "Perfect Tense" is a man broken on the wheel of office life - the great beige wheel of grinding routine, the uniform grey carpets, the endless buff envelopes. Driven by the entropy of the office, out of step with the zeitgeist, he has begun to question his whole generation, and his own empty, under-achieved life in particular. Recounting his day at the office - one particular day, which seems to mimic the coffee-mug slogan, 'Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life' - the narrator scrutinises the arcana of his environment like an urban anthropologist, looking for aesthetic or spiritual purpose and finding only print-outs and suspension files, spider plants and yuccas and polystyrene cups. In this short, brilliant novel, we are taken on a terrifyingly familiar tour of office life which is at once hilarious and profound - the comedy of recognition matched by deepening urban anxiety, as if T.S. Eliot had been blessed with Groucho Marx's comic timing. One man's unravelling philosophical crisis amid the leaving parties and sandwiches becomes, in the hands of Michael Bracewell, a metaphysical search for order and purpose deep in the back of a desk drawer.