Mr Phillips is an accountant who lies in bed with his wife and dreams of other women. When he loses his job and tells no one, his first day out of work takes in a false journey to the office, a stroll with a pornographer in Battersea Park, a blue film, and a bank robbery in Knightsbridge.
Mr Phillips is a married accountant. He prepares for work, but this is the day on which he will chat with a pornographer, stalk a TV mini-celebrity, have lunch with a record mogul, and get caught up in a bank robbery. Why is Mr Phillips not at work?
A brief account of a day in the life of a man who has been an accountant for all his working life. Mr Phillips struggles into wakefulness, and wonders about the cost of post-it notes, his chances of winning the lottery and of the number of times he has masturbated and made love. Then, as he has done every day of his working life, he sets off for the office. This isn't as prurient as it sounds. Mr Phillips is an accountant, paid to make detailed calculations about actuarial chance. Quite early on, the reader begins to suspect such concerns have destroyed any chance he might ever have had of living his own life. What happens? Well, Mr Phillips sets off for work, muses on traffic, nose-picking and (rather improbably) gets involved in a bank raid. Then, at almost the usual time, he returns home to find his youngest child washing the car. Another day in the working life of an ordinary man. Except this isn't like any other day in his working life. Like many white middle-aged men over 50, Mr Phillips is suffering an identity crisis because he has been made redundant from the job where he earned a miserable salary for as long as anyone can remember. He's not, however, a parody figure along the lines of David Nobbs's wonderful Reggie Perrin. Nor is he (quite) an Everyman of the kind conjured up by Isherwood in his marvellous late novel A Singular Man. The intense detail with which Mr. P's day is described recalls most vividly the Nicholson Baker of The Mezzanine, his best book. We are in the country of fashionable minimalism. This is a fictional landscape from which all colour, passion and emotion have been deliberately bled in order to impart an air of universality. But if that sounds negative it is not meant to: this book is extraordinarily likeable. Perhaps because, underneath the fashionable packaging, there is a sense of an author who cares about people wildly different from himself. Mr. Phillips's son in particular is superb: a go-ahead twenty-something who repackages old pop hits and tries to make time for his old man but whose brusque sweetness only serves to emphasize the loneliness and isolation of a hero judged to be past his sell-by date. Some of the the best things about this book are the things that work directly against its artistic method - its concern for ordinary people, its quiet humanity and its attempt to put the marginalized, for once, at the centre of an almost-story. (Kirkus UK)