Saturday, May 31, 2008


"Ever sat at your desk wondering what the company you work for actually does? Ever looked at your colleagues and wondered if any of them are in fact just blagging it every day? If you’ve answered yes to either of these, then this is the book for you – the employees at an anonymous US corporation are freaked out when they realise that who they thought was a PA actually seems to be their boss, and then people start getting fired in alphabetical order. Darker than The Office and funnier than And Then We Came To The End, it’s this year’s office read…"

—"Read This With Ernest Hemingway," on the George Lamb show, BBC 6

Friday, May 30, 2008

Books as Sunscreens

Great Beach Reads: Breeze Through Our Season's Picks

"With wit and cleverness, Park delves into an anonymous NYC office filled with quirky characters and absurdly funny scenarios."
People StyleWatch, June/July 2008

And don't forget:

Paperback Page-Turners: What every chick should have in her beach bag

“If you think Pam and Jim have it bad, try spending a day with Lizzie, Jonah, and Pru at their 'Office'-like company. You'll laugh, cringe, and thank God you don't work there.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The long division

Nibbling doughnuts and wrestling with computer code, the workers at, an Internet start-up here, are holding their weekly staff meeting — with colleagues on the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. —NYT


The study, which surveyed a cross-section of 477 female recent college graduates, found that young women were 23 percent more likely than any previous generation to seek dissatisfaction in the professional world rather than in empty romantic partnerships. —The Onion

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Green scene

"Workers who display plants and foliage are generally happier." —L.A. Times

Office art: Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons, Modern Office (With Four Women) , C-print, 20" x 30", 1998.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Warm best

"Park has a sound sense both of his characters' kindness and banality, and as the novel progresses he succeeds in nailing the note of false ennui the young group at first gives off, exposing not just their dull, sad anxieties but the sweet affection they do develop for each other, with sharp and lovely language....[T]he final section [is] a soulful love letter and apologia that distills the gracefulness of Park's prose throughout the book to a single elegant voice, the individual that was before entering the assembly line of the Jobmilla nightmare....[A] lyrical and often piercing look at daily life made strange and beautiful by faithful transcription."

—Kathryn Joyce, "Hamlet at the Water Cooler," Newsweek [Minor spoiler alert]

Bend sinister

"Personal Days is spot on in depicting the mundane comedy of cubicle life, the computer crashes, the office intrigues, battles over where to go for lunch, the puzzle of who owns that rotting banana in the refrigerator....Park has penned a brooding farce that glistens with a sinister frivolity." —Dayton Daily News

Cubicles of prose

"[W]ritten in cubicles of prose that neatly capture the monstrous minutiae of office life....[A]s satire Personal Days is dead-on." —Houston Chronicle

Tooth imprints on a night guard

TMI? Probably.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Prioritize and delegate when appropriate

From Ed Champion's old job evaluation:

* Keep work to a consistent level throughout the year
* Improve communications skills and relationships

"It was like the prop room of a theater company based in Pompeii..."

Scroll through Phillip Toledano's bankrupt offices.

(Via BoingBoing)

* * *

Bookforum on Personal Days: “[C]alls to mind Beckett and Bernhard....But the vision here is not so pessimistic, and despite all the comparisons it invites, Personal Days proves by its end to be wholly and strikingly its own.”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Theater of absurdity

The Los Angeles Times reviews Personal Days:

"The modern corporate office is to Ed Park's debut novel Personal Days what World War II was to Joseph Heller's Catch-22—a theater of absurdity and injustice so profound as to defy all reason....Park may be in line to fill the shoes left by Kurt Vonnegut and other satirists par excellence."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dressed in your mother's bridal veil?

"Probably the funniest novel of office life since Joseph Heller's Something Happened...A must-read for anyone who works the nine-to-five..."

Daily Mail, 23 May 2008
[Click on image for legible view]

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"My book can have a Facebook page?"

A: Yes, it can!

(Via Jessica.)

Continental drift

From L Magazine:

The office is its own continent, with distinct regions, subcultures and rituals....Personal Days succeeds on Park’s sharp prose and his sensitivity to the insanities of entirely average people. By encouraging our uncomfortable laughter, he does justice to the absurdity of the office.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Tonight (Wed. 5/21) at 7 p.m., Ed reads from Personal Days at McNally Robinson bookstore, 52 Prince Street, followed by a discussion with his editor, Julia Cheiffetz, and a signing. Please come!

From Flavorpill:
Welcome to the working weak: reading Personal Daysthe debut novel by Ed Park, a founding editor of The Believer—is like staying late at the office, drunk on cough syrup, and coming across the diary of the person who occupied your desk a year before you did. In this intricate, hysterical novel, an unnamed New York office is being downsized according to indecipherable commands. Park's hilarious take on such cubicle routines as ordering lunch, hunting for a stapler, and joining the softball team will strike a chord with anyone who's ever done the 9-to-5, while the shocking shifts in tone perfectly convey the violence of corporate downsizing.

And from the NYT's Urban Eye:
Literary Overproductivity Alert
You may know Ed Park as an editor of The Believer or of the mysterious journal The New-York Ghost, as a poet or fledgling garage rocker. Now you can also know him as a novelist. "Personal Days," his debut, is an office comedy/whodunit about an unraveling New York workplace. Tonight this former editor at The Village Voice (a clue, perhaps?) reads at the McNally Robinson bookstore, where he'll also talk with his editor about why he likes to make other writers look so darned lazy.

"Quite an undermining e-mail"

Personal Days is featured by Ernest Hemingway on BBC 6's George Lamb show — a little after the 56-minute mark..."Two neon thumbs up!"

Tingle alley

From the litblog I've Been Reading Lately:

Reading Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov (1859) and Ed Park's Personal Days (2008) at the same time continues to offer unexpected (and unexpectedly rewarding) affinities. Take, for example, this bit of contemporary folklore offered up by one of Ed's charactes:
Jack II says that when you feel a tingling in your fingers, it means someone's Googling you. We take to this bit of instant folklore immediately.
I wonder whether a Yahoo search triggers the same response? Or an Alta Vista search?

If Goncharov were alive today, he'd surely know the answer, if the following conversation between Oblomov's parents is any indication:Suddenly Ilya Ivanovich stopped in the middle of the room, and, with a look of alarm, touched the tip of his nose. "Oh, no, this is terrible," he said, "look, the tip of my nose is itching, there's going to be a death."

"There you go again!" his wife exclaimed, clasping her hands, "it's not the tip of your nose itching that means there's going to be a death, it's the bridge of your nose! Really, what a scatterbrain you are! What if you were to say something like that when we were visiting people or when we had guests--it would be so embarrassing!"

"Well, what does it mean then when the tip of your nose itches?" said Ilya Ivanovich, discountenanced.

Read on...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When Ed meets Ed

Edward Champion interviews Ed Park for The Bat Segundo Show.

Listen to the clatter of silverware at the Metro Diner!

"I would be very rigorous about counting how many words I wrote in a day..."

And tomorrow (5/21): Stop by McNally Robinson, where Ed P. will read from Personal Days and talk to his editor!


A reader has devised a new game. Here's how to play:

1) Buy a copy of Personal Days.
2) Study the cover.
3) Form words the way you would in Boggle.
4) Delight your friends with sentences like “Don Renado, renal RNA doper, pares open one pod layer per eon.”

Monday, May 19, 2008

Heightoned senses

This is the blog of Alan Heighton, who designed the UK cover for Personal Days. (The review copies in England sported a similar cover, but with fewer people...will try to scan soon.)

As seen in...

—Entertainment Weekly, May 16, 2008

(Via John.)

The way we work now

See the ad! Today at GalleyCat.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How to convey nonchalance during Pinteresque pauses in the golf-club locker rooms.

His office friends could offer little solace, he said. They are preoccupied with their own anxious limbo. Summoning the post-apocalyptic refrain, he added, "It’s like 'The living envy the dead.'" — "The Language of Loss for the Jobless," by Jan Hoffman, NYT.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Taking a break from work, for example,
to worry about losing my job,
I ponder why one uses the figure

of a dog thrown a crumb from the table—
what dog relishes a crumb?

—From "On Being Philosophical," by Don Share (in Jacket)

Keep this one at home

Andy Smith, "I Pretend to Work" (poster)

(Via BoingBoing.)

"How Disgusting!"

(Via Maud.)

Many small cuts

People on Wall Street seem to be vanishing overnight. [...]

After the 1987 stock market crash, for example, employees were herded into conference rooms and dismissed en masse.[...]This time, companies are making many small cuts over the course of weeks or even months. Some people who have lost jobs, and many more struggling to hold them, say banks are keeping employees in the dark about the size and timing of layoffs.[...]

The idea that banks will slowly wield the knife again and again unnerves many employees. People know the cuts are coming — they just don’t know when or where.

—"For Wall Street Workers, Ax Falls Quietly," NYT

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Through Kafka's eyes"

Like Dunder Mifflin seen through Kafka’s eyes, the novel explores the distinct boredom of Cubicle Land.

Unfolding in Post-it–size passages and sections structured like software manuals, the novel takes aim at procrastination, paranoia, office supply pilfering, and computer-crashing e-mails of kittens, along with the etiquette of shared elevator rides, cigarette breaks, and after-work drinks.

Personal Days
doesn’t stop at satire. Park navigates hilariously between gentle irony and genuine anguish, much like that mocking question your computer asks each night before you log off.

Are you sure you want to quit?

—Daily Candy

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Treasures from the reject pile

Ed blogs at Powell's:

I confess that I didn't buy Tallahassee; I picked it out of the "reject pile" at the office where I used to work. Here editors would deposit old magazines, books, CDs, and less classifiable artifacts on a long, chest-high filing cabinet. There was a high junk quotient, and from time to time the clutter would be swept wholesale into the nearby trash bin. But there were frequently gems, and my bookcases and — well, all my CDs are kind of swimming around in this big wicker thing — are filled with these unexpectedly momentous treasures.

"Time Out"!

“Ed Park’s whodunit-cum-office-horror-show romp shimmers with menace from page one…While Park’s process-of-elimination conceit harks back to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the former Village Voice editor steers Personal Days’ story into zones of corporate excess no 20th-century author could have imagined. He’s funnier than Christie, and just postmodern enough to know when to switch structural gambits for maximum impact: The book opens with short chapters perfect for reading in fits and starts (say, at your desk), and closes with a long, deliriously claustrophobic, epistolary section that insists on being read in a single sitting. By never identifying the company’s business,Park makes his story one any office drone with a hint of resentment can relate to. This is easily cubicle comedy’s darkest artifact to date, and its most subversive.” —Time Out New York

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A whole life

Every so often, in the repetitive conversations that take place between cubicle walls, the proposition is floated: We shouldn’t demand fulfillment from our jobs—we should look for it elsewhere. But given what our jobs demand from us, do we often have that choice? Or, as the narrator of Ed Park’s Personal Days asks, “How is it that she has a whole life outside the office? Everyone must, but most days this seems like too much to ask.”

Read the rest of Jonathan Taylor’s dazzling review in Stop Smiling.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Listen up!

Listen to Ed talk about Personal Days on the BBC's Open Book. An actor reads from the book, and scholars talk about the history of the office novel—mentioning the Grossmiths' Diary of a Nobody and Wodehouse's Psmith in the City.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ricky Gervais territory

“[Q]uite simply, brilliant....Personal Days (Jonathan Cape £12.99, pp243) follows life amid the desks of a corporation where office ways are laid bare in all their tedious and frequently hilarious detail...As much a novel as a series of pitch-perfect comic vignettes of working life, Personal Days is the ideal book to read under the table during the next staff training seminar. Park has strayed into Ricky Gervais's territory and may soon be its king.” —Francesca Segal, Observer (U.K.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

What is Operation JASON?

“Personal Days is...neither anxiously nor prodigiously brilliant, but quite maturely and pitilessly so.” —James Parker, Barnes & Noble Review

Thursday, May 8, 2008

That sinking feeling

"I'd used up all my sick days and the two personal days they allowed us, but when the alarm went off and the baby started squalling and my wife threw back the covers to toter off to the bathroom in a hobbled two-legged trot, I knew I wasn't going in to work." —T. Corraghessan Boyle, "The Lie"

Pre-order Personal Days!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The 12-word review

"Like 'The Office'? Ed Park's debut novel is your next favorite read."
Velocity Weekly

Pre-ordering is still an option!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Read the first line of Personal Days here...then pre-order the book!

Office? Ghost? OFFICE GHOST!

"An employee who maintains a position at a company despite the fact that all of his job duties have been reassigned to other employees. This could be by the ghost's own design or due to restructuring within the department...."

Read on, at Urban Dictionary. (Via Margaret.)

To do:

Time to pre-order Personal Days!

(Read some reviews!)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Paranoid weirdness

"Comparisons with The Office are inevitable...the narrative, a DeLillo-like, pellet-sized series of vignettes, rings true in its evocation of the paranoid weirdness of office life." —Arena

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Letter from Siberia

I can't put Siberia down
but can't keep holding onto it.
—Anne Boyer, "The Romance of Happy Workers"

Allergic reaction

"In other words, she was allergic to work."

— "Sickened by the Office (Really)" by Lisa Belkin, New York Times