Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Open City #30 — reading and party

The new issue of Open City has a story of mine—I'll be reading (with Alissa Quart) at the party around 8 tonight. It's at The Magician, 118 Rivington (Essex/Norfolk). $15 gets you open bar and a copy of the issue (which also features one of my favorite novelists of yore, Louis B. Jones)...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reminder! SWEET: Actors Reading Writers (12/2)

This Thursday (12/2) at 7:30 p.m. at Three of Cups (83 First Ave. @ 5th St.), come listen to actress Joya Mia Italiano reading from Personal Days!

Other performers will do dramatic readings of work by Sonya Chung, Jonathan Dixon, poet Maya Pindyck, and the one and only Amanda Filipacchi, whose Love Creeps is one of my favorite comic novels.

(Here's the Facebook page for Sweet: Actors Reading Writers. And here's the same information configured slightly differently on my glorious webpage.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Bound to Last"

A piece I wrote on E. Gary Gygax's Dungeon Masters Guide (TSR) is in an interesting new anthology, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book (Da Capo), edited by Sean Manning. The introduction is by Ray Bradbury, and contributors include Sarah Manguso (on Ripley's Believe It or Not!), Karen Joy Fowler, David Hajdu, Karen Green, Jim Knipfel (on Mason & Dixon), Anthony Swofford, J. Courtney Sullivan, Jim Shepard...

(Bonus! You can listen to me, editor Sean Manning, and contributor Sigrid Nuñez discuss the book on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show.)

Two new pieces

I have two new pieces up/out:

1. For Bookforum, I look at the 16th (and 14th) edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.

2. For the Poetry Foundation, I meditate on Garrett Caples's pamphlet, "Quintessence of the Minor: Symbolist Poetry in English," and John Ashbery and James Schuyler's novel, A Nest of Ninnies.

Dramatic reading! 12/2

On Thursday, December 2, Personal Days will be one of five books being interpreted—dramatically!—by SWEET Actors Reading Writers. The actress Joya Mia Italiano will read from the novel; also featured will be work by Sonya Chung, Jonathan Dixon, and Amanda Filipacchi—our greatest living "pure" comic novelist!

The event takes place at Three of Cups, 83 First Ave. at 5th St.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reading tonight (10/27) — NYC/KGB

I'll be reading tonight at 7 at KGB (85 E. 4th St.) with Bryan Charles—more info here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reading at KGB, 10/27

On Weds., Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. I'll be reading with novelist/memoirist/Pavement scholar Bryan Charles at KGB—it's a reading for Open City. (A story of mine will be in the winter issue.) Bryan's memoir, There's a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From (a VTS, as the narrator of Joseph Weisberg's 10th Grade would say), is out now from Open City Books.

I'm excited! I don't know what I'm going to read from yet...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beard award

Chin Up!
I work the second shift in an office where cubicles are shared. The fellow who uses my cubicle in the first shift has a luxuriant beard. Every night, I come to work and find beard hairs all over the desk and keyboard. I find this incredibly disgusting. Is there a polite way of asking him to clean up after himself?

How about weaving those molted whiskers into a wreath that you can hang from your shared cubicle wall — with a bit of verse attached:

“Your beard is handsome
and deserves an award.
But on your face,
Not in my keyboard.
Don’t forget to tidy!”

And if you’re short on time, feel free to skip the wreath.

NYT, Social Q's

Thursday, June 24, 2010

6/30 Reading in Bryant Park!

From Underwater New York:

Wednesday, June 30

12:30 – 1:45 pm

Bryant Park

An afternoon with Underwater New York


Music for Underwater Things by Michael Hearst;

Readings of original underwater-y stories by

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Ed Park, Personal Days: A Novel

Nelly Reifler, See Through: Stories

Said Sayrafiezadeh, When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir

Deb Olin Unferth, Vacation;

And an underwater letter-writing activity from

Ben Greenman, What He’s Poised to Do: Stories

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The world and the word

A short plug here for Ed Park’s novel, Personal Days. The book is replete with inventive wordplay (unwanted backrub given by a character named Jack = jackrub; character called Graham with whiny British accent is renamed Grime). Plus, there’s a nice un-Eating Sideways moment. It’s when the narrator suggests that there should be a French expression, along the lines of l’esprit d’escalier, for the sensation of being initially amused but later unnerved by something that’s said to you. —PRI's The World (podcast on language)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Work Friend Accidentally Becomes Real Friend"

Phipps, 31, told reporters that the interactions with his coworker, which for two years had been confined to job-related matters and breezy small talk, first took an unplanned turn toward authentic friendship this past March. According to Phipps, he and Jenkins happened to leave the office at the same time one day and decided to kill half an hour at a nearby bar before heading off to separate evening engagements. —The Onion

Monday, May 31, 2010

Let's do "lunch"

Coworkers, in phone calls, always sound like they're plotting bank robberies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Keep holding

Your call is important to us.
That is why, although we are not now answering,
we will, as soon as possible, answer,
provided you keep holding.
If you do not keep holding,
we assue you
we will not answer

—from Philip Dacey's "Recorded Message" (in The Deathbed Playboy)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Brown Corpus

Speech recognizers make educated guesses at what is being said. They play the odds. For example, the phrase “serve as the inspiration,” is ten times more likely than “serve as the installation,” which sounds similar. Such statistical models become more precise given more data. Helpfully, the digital word supply leapt from essentially zero to about a million words in the 1980s when a body of literary text called the Brown Corpus became available. Millions turned to billions as the Internet grew in the 1990s. Inevitably, Google published a trillion-word corpus in 2006. Speech recognition accuracy, borne aloft by exponential trends in text and transistors, rose skyward. But it couldn’t reach human heights. —Robert Fortner, "Rest in Peas: The Unrecognized Death of Speech Recognition"

(Via Jenny D)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Use your illusion

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.

“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.” —NYT

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Look like the lunatic

To cultivate a ruinous grimace for the upcoming office softball season, ditch the stickers AND the grease stick. The answer is original eye black, homemade with just a cork and a flame. Here's how:

Burning a cork's end until it's blackened and moist will produce a convenient and disposable char applicator. Just smear two fat streaks under the eyes—preferably en dashes, not hyphens. Perfectly rounded edges be damned, eye black isn't supposed to be neat, and it isn't supposed to be pretty. Your pores plugged with red wine-scented carcinogens, you'll look like the lunatic taking the intra-squad scrimmage way too seriously. But you'll also look like the guy least likely to abide a high and tight fastball (albeit delivered underhand most likely).

No doubt by the seventh inning stretch, sweat will have made a mess of your mug—probably something resembling a bridesmaid with a bad case of beer tears. Now, that's intimidation.

—Martin Mulkeen, GQ

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Take This Job and Write It"

"Joblessness may be hovering around 10 percent, with some 29 million Americans out of work or searching for full-time employment, but there’s one group of people whose persistent alienation from regular employment has emerged as a particularly serious problem. I refer, of course, to novelists."

The New York Times Book Review's Jennifer Schuessler writes about Personal Days and other books about work.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The first film

Whatever Reitman's original intentions, Up in the Air has become a movie about its own significance. The director, an avid believer in his own press, has suggested that it is nothing less than "the portrait of 2009." I honestly don't know what the film has to say about 2009—other than that it's kind of tough out there—and my guess is that Reitman's claim (which echoes the abundant critical praise for the movie's "eloquence" and "prescience") has something to do with the long history of evasion and denial in American cinema when it comes to matters of work and the workplace.

The first film in history was an 1895 short by the Lumière brothers with the self-explanatory title Workers Leaving the Factory. In the years since, as if in deference to their function as a leisure activity, movies have been largely blind to the daily rituals of work and the meaning it has in our lives (unless the characters are, say, detectives or assassins). Documentaries are the exception, as are sporadic outliers like Mike Judge. There is a kind of bracing novelty when a big movie with a glamorous star so much as glances in the direction of the real working world, where people toil, lose jobs, and struggle for survival (and have done so since long before 2009).

—Dennis Lim on Up in the Air, Slate

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Unkindness of Crow

"Crow is the fallen angel, old man death, Christ, Ulysses," Eagle Twin guitarist Gentry Densley says. "The universality of myth is something that figures strong in Eagle Twin."

Pittsburgh City Paper

(Via James)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tonight! (Saturday 2/20)

Tonight at 8! Reading with Lynne Tillman, plus film & music, for "Impossible Geometries"—at 177 Livingston in the heart of Brooklyn.

More info here...and here...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Look alive

Quick heads’ up letting you know that Eve Ensler is going to be coming through the office this afternoon, so Jared if you could deconstruct your little cup-fortress, and Bethany maybe put away the vintage Walkman for an hour, that would be great.
Good Jobbb

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Time Out on this Saturday's (2/20) event in Brooklyn:

The multidisciplinary benefit party Impossible Geometries, for the online journal Triple Canopy and the art-film space Light Industries, kicks off with readings by Ed Park and Lynne Tillman, follows with films and music, and promises to be the literary bash of the week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Two February readings

On February 20, at 177 Livingston in Brooklyn—a benefit for Light Industry, Triple Canopy, and the Public School:

Then on Wednesday, February 24, I'll be appearing at Housing Works with Hari Kunzru and Mary Gaitskill for a Bookforum event:

Why not come to both?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Up and down

At work I climbed from office boy to field officer to regional sales manager to CFO, and then back down again. —Luc Sante, "Flannel Ball" (at Significant Objects)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The sting

From the stinging embarrassment of the company softball team’s record-setting losses to the odd, enchanting power of a Post-it, Park repeatedly finds ways to turn the minutiae of office work into exciting, inviting prose.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lunch hour lit

At the Guardian, Toby Lichtig says Personal Days is not a book to read at work.

But in an actual, well-earned break from work, who's got the mental strength to curl up next to the fax machine and photocopier and be transported to a different world?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Cc'd to Andy"

Add to the list of answering machine songs: Mink Lungs, live on WFMU.

(Via Good Jobbbbbb)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Ryan from The Office's photo blog: "My pictures serve as a mirror, not only reflecting the truth in existence, but also providing the viewer a glimpse back through my lens, past the viewfinder, and straight into my spirit/soul."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Agile space"

Cutting cubicles is part of this ongoing effort. The company has divided its workforce into three categories. A “resident” works at one location most of the time. A “mobile” works in a variety of locations: home, the airport, at company locations, or with customers. An “off-site” worker is at a fixed non-company site such as home or at the office of a business partner.... —Susan E. Reed, GlobalPost

(via NYT)

From Jen

Photo: Taipei (Nicky Loh/Reuters)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Slow news day

Cool slanted image (from Sifter X).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jim the Vampire

"Memos from the future"...and some more of the top Office pranks.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top of the pops

In The Atlantic, James Parker looks back on the decade's Top Pop Culture Moments—you know, Radiohead, Grand Theft Auto, Jackass the Movie, and:

2008: Personal Days by Ed Park. The debut novel from the editor of The Believer captured the precise moment in U.S. office culture before everybody got fired. Cleverer than Office Space, shorter than Then We Came To The End, this excellent little book sits gloating atop the ash-heap of corporate history.


I once had a laptop at my old job. It was heavy. Only the 1 key worked. I sat at a meeting with only that key working and managed to get to Blogger and read through the blogs of the day to keep myself entertained. Moral of the story: you don't need a working keyboard to use a laptop. —Livin' the Dream