Wednesday, July 30, 2008

L Magazine, and a reading at KGB

The summer fiction issue of The L Magazine—free in print and online!—includes EP's "Variations on Original Sin," a part of the novel-in-progress The Dizzies.

New Yorkers! Come here Ed read at KGB on Thursday, July 31, 7 p.m.! With fellow L-mag contributor April Wilder. More info here.

Read what New York magazine has to say...This will be EP's last reading of the summer!

* * *

In other PD news—

Canada's National Post has a "guaranteed summer read"—Personal Days.

And EP jabbers somewhere in the midst of this Korean American radio show out of Chicago (is it called "Ill-Rated"?).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From dawn to distraction

Dale Dauten, in the Arizona Daily Star, fits Personal Days into his cri de coeur:

In reading this and reflecting on how much of the typical office day is spent in nattering, nagging and nothings, I kept thinking: So why do we still have employees come to an office? It's time to admit that there are more distractions at the office than at home, and just give in to the idea of remote employees.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On the subway

(From Jessica)

Braving the rapids

The one at whose side I worked that summer was deep-set in family heartaches, and facially inhumane, but she sometimes came out from behind all that etiquette.

Eleven was the only clock word she liked. She would insist it sounded lilting and relenting to her.

For me, though, the hour itself—the work-shift one, I mean, and not its trimmer twin in late evening—did not slope toward anything better. I never budged for lunch, and I liked to do myself in a little. I would postpone a piss until I had to brave rapids, practically. (There was a vessel I kept beneath my desk.)

This was the property-management division. We were sectored off from the rest of headquarters by little more than particleboard. The job required the luxurious useless indoor fortitude it has always been my fortune to enjoy.

—Gary Lutz, "Years of Age"

Sunday, July 27, 2008


And in the same way that others return to their homes, I retreat to my non-home: the large office on the Rua dos Douradores. I arrive at my desk as at a bulwark against life. I have a tender spot - tender to the point of tears—for my ledgers in which I keep other people’s accounts, for the old inkstand I use, for the hunched back of Sérgio, who draws up invoices a little beyond where I sit. I love all this, perhaps because I have nothing else to love, and perhaps also because nothing is worth a human soul’s love, and so it’s all the same—should we feel the urge to give it—whether the recipient be the diminutive form of my inkstand or the vast indifference of the stars.
—Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

(Via Selfdivider)

Friday, July 25, 2008


In the U.K.: "[Personal Days] offers a very modern insight into the way we work now." —Independent

And in the U.S.: Ed tries to define success for Time Out New York.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pazzi d'ufficio!

The first chapter of Personal Days can be read here—in Italian!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama probably not reading PD

NPR: "He also said he would use 'big sticks and big carrots' with Iran."

Fear of firing

Ms. Getty relished her late-in-life success, her son said. And she enjoyed reminiscing about more difficult times. In a 1990 interview she recalled one of her last secretarial jobs, at a company called Snap-Out Forms, where she kept her acting ambitions a secret for fear of being fired.

“At Snap-Out Forms, the first day I came to work, I had an audition, and I said, ‘Can I go for my lunch at 10 o’clock?’ ” she said. “The next day I had to go someplace else. I said. ‘Can I take my lunch at 2:30?’ The next day I asked if I could take lunch at 11 o’clock. The office manager said, ‘You have the strangest eating habits of any secretary we’ve ever had.’ ” —NYT

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inconceivable cross

Tuggs's fortune comes from the development and universal popularity of the Thingie®, an object so nebulously defined that the reader keeps trying to come up with a real-world analogue—some inconceivable cross between a Post-it and Microsoft Office, perhaps.
—Ed Park, "The Sure Thing"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Welcome to the machine

From Restricted View:

I checked my card's account history when I got back to my desk and found this list of purchases:
    6/11/2008 12:05 PM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85
    6/11/2008 10:24 AM Purchase - Vending Location $1.50
    6/11/2008 10:24 AM Purchase - Vending Location $1.50
    6/11/2008 10:24 AM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85
    6/11/2008 10:24 AM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85
    6/11/2008 10:23 AM Purchase - Vending Location $1.50
    6/11/2008 10:23 AM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85
    6/11/2008 10:23 AM Purchase - Vending Location $1.50
    6/11/2008 10:22 AM Purchase - Vending Location $1.50
    6/11/2008 10:22 AM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85
    6/11/2008 10:22 AM Purchase - Vending Location $1.50
    6/11/2008 10:21 AM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85
    6/11/2008 10:19 AM Purchase - Vending Location $0.85

Pachyderm query

Re: The elephant in the room


OK, um, seriously? I thought we were going to have cupcakes for Angela's birthday at 3, but then I get there and someone has clearly put an elephant in the conference room. I am sure whoever did this thinks it's pretty hilarious, but you guys are not the office manager, and you are not the one who is going to have to deal with building services when they find out that there's an elephant inside the office park....

—Wendy Molyneux, McSweeney's Internet Tendency

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In a single bound

Time Out presents some online Gotham games.

Dusky jewel

Levi writes:

Your piece on office songs immediately made me think of "Piazza, New York Catcher," which I sometimes think is the best song ever. (Seriously: when he gets to the "I know it wouldn't come to love" line, then invokes "Don't Walk Away Renee," my heart just crumbles every time.) I realized that I tend to think of it as an office song—but looking again at the lyrics reveals that of course they're barely in the office at all (hell, the office is ultimately imaginary, too, isn't it?)—just "At dusk when work is over we'll continue the debate."

Cup of ambition

A musical based on the 1980 film “Nine to Five” has a date with Broadway. The show, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, will open in September at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles and play through Oct. 19. —NYT

(At Largehearted Boy, EP names "9 to 5" as one of his favorite office songs, and discusses New Order's "Run.")

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Cubicle theories abound"

My cubicle feels strongly that Linda is the gal to lead the charge into a more sane, less youth-centric, more woman-friendly year. Born in 1965, she is living proof that life, and fabulousness in general, begin at 40. Watch for her in the upcoming Prada ads. And watch for her peers Naomi and Christy in various other fall fashion campaigns. The supermodels are back!
Cubicle theories abound regarding the return of this triumvirate....
—Simon Doonan, "Teen Chic Is Tired; Women Are Back!," New York Observer

(From Jenny)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Park Personal Pegasus

EP at Pegasus Books (aka Pendragon), Berkeley, June 19.
Photo by Veti_Vert

Cooler heads

Painting in photo: Rafael Perez, Secretary, 2008; DFN Gallery

Friday, July 11, 2008

Printer's ball

During the workday, many interoffice emails arrive in my inbox with this message at the bottom: "Please consider the environment before choosing to print this email." There must have been a company-wide campaign at some point before I arrived; I don't have the banner, but it seems like most people do...But...this consciousness-raising banner doesn't just appear onscreen; it shows up at the bottom of the page if you decide to go ahead and hit "print"...

Read more of Mollie's "Today's Office Irony."

Discuss, Part II

Thursday, July 10, 2008

PD in TIME magazine

(Thanks to John for the scan.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The dishwashing fairy

There are 70 employees in her office, she said, and each seems to believe that a dishwashing fairy comes in the night. “How is it that an adult enjoys a cup of coffee in a mug, then rinses it and puts it, full of water, into the sink and walks away?” she asked in a tone that suggests she has asked this before and never received an answer. “What exactly do they think is happening to that mug to get it back into the cupboard?” —Lisa Belkin, NYT

(From Jenny)

Desk set

It is rare that writers of fiction sit behind their desks, actually writing, for more than a few hours a day. Had Kafka been able to use his time efficiently, the work schedule at the Institute would have left him with enough free time for writing. As he recognized, the truth was that he wasted time. —Louis Begley on Kafka, as quoted by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books

(Via Jenny)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The shock of leaving the office was greater than I had anticipated. Hartbourne warned me that it would be so. I did not believe him. Perhaps I am, more than I realized, a creature of routine. Perhaps too, with scarcely pardonable stupidity, I imagined that inspiration would come with freedom. I did not expect the complete withdrawal of my gift....
—Iris Murdoch, The Black Prince

(read the rest of the excerpt at Maud Newton.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

PD downtown!

On Thursday, July 10, at 7:30, EP will be reading as part of the St. Mark's Bookshop Reading Series, with Leni Zumas.

Don't go to the bookstore, though—the reading is at Solas (232 E. 9th St., btw Send and Third Aves.)


See you there?!

Office art: Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, Study for Office in a Small City , 1953.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Slipping into something

Have you seen people reading Personal Days in public? Send in your sightings (or cropped photos!) to

Above: PD fan at Sonic Youth/Feelies show, Battery Park, 4th of July
Picture by Ennis Mild.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Vaclav Havel's The Office

It is not so much a memoir as a series of commentaries, interspersed with contemporaneous office notes and entries from a diary he kept in 2005 while working on the book. President Havel worries about everything from the future of the planet to the half-cooked potatoes served to the visiting Emperor of Japan and the bat that has taken up residence in his summer house. “In the closet where the vacuum cleaner is kept there also lives a bat. How to get rid of it? The light bulb has been unscrewed so as not to wake it up and upset it.”

(Via Jenny)


Friday, July 4, 2008

Sign of the 'Times'

Personal Days is a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice.

(Read the full NYT coverage here.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


He likes (though that hardly seems the right word) to write virtually interminable sentences—as if a period would bring the reader unearned relief from the mimetic pain he ought to be suffering. —Frank Kermode on Harold Brodkey, NYT (Sept. 18, 1988)

You could watch a lot of movies

AM New York has a column called Extreme Commuter. From this week's edition:
For more than two years, Combs has taken a bus, the No. 7 train and a Metro-North train to get to and from work. She leaves her home at 6:45 a.m. to get into work at 9:15 a.m., and then leaves the office at 6:30 p.m. to return home at 9 p.m.

Great story—but a PD spoiler!

EP says: "Don't click on this story until you've finished the book!"

(From Jordan)

(Seriously, don't click unless you've finished!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

O, Siberia!

[T]oday I got a work-related e-mail in which the last (unrelated) line read, "By the way, [boss' boss] tells me you're moving to another building soon!" Uh, thanks for letting me know, guys? I will try and forget about the book I just read in which soon-to-be-laid-off employees were first moved to a near-empty floor where no one would visit them. —From a LiveJournal entry

No snooze is...good snooze?

Alice Wang's Sleep Inventions.

"...a reverse alarm clock to be programmed for how long you want to sleep instead of when you want to wake up. Keeping with her ideas on sleeping and waking, Wang has come up with a Tyrant alarm clock, which steals your mobile phone and makes random calls every three minutes until you get up..."

(Via Jen)