Saturday, January 31, 2009

The choice is yours

Remember Work Is Hell?

"Do you take pleasure in adding up column after column of meaningless numbers, or or is your idea ofa good time wading through mountains of bureaucratic gibberish?"


Friday, January 30, 2009

“It’s not what I signed up for.”

For Christine Cameron, the recession became real when the financial analyst she had been dating for about a year would get drunk and disappear while they were out together, then accuse her the next day of being the one who had absconded.

—"It's the Economy, Girlfriend," NYT

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The writing style is unconventional but works well. The last section, in particular, uses a literary technique that is incredibly innovative and interesting. I cannot tell you any more without being too much of a spoiler but at the end of the last section you will certainly think to yourself, “Whoa.”

Sifter X

What's a "personal day"?

Some definitions.

It's like watching an hourglass

...or rather, taking the sand out of an hourglass...and playing with it.

(Via Very Short List)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009


In a sunny economy, workers joke about frittering away the hours during traditional slow times, like January, confident that things will eventually pick up. Looking busy when you’re not in order to fool the boss can be something of an art form.

But now, when business is verrry slow and the possibility of layoffs icily real, looking busy is no joke. In retail and real estate, restaurants and law offices, many workers are working hard to look necessary — even when they don’t have all that much to do. —Jan Hoffman, " Working Hard to Look Busy," NYT

Saturday, January 24, 2009



Friday, January 23, 2009

Key party

On Amazon...key phrases in Personal Days...and another book with a very appealing title...

Personal Days: A Novel
See all pages with references to "distress frog".

*I deleted one spoilerish phrase.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here's to Future 'Days'

The Institute for the Future of the Book's Dan Visel:

Ed Park’s Personal Days is a beguiling and completely unexpected combination of Walser’s aggressive modesty and Raymond Roussel’s poetic stratagems. I can’t think of a first novel that I liked more this year.

Ready Steady Book

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


—From Maxine

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'll be at the, ummm, inauguration, yeah...

“I think there are going to be canceled meetings that day because so many people are going to be away,” said Mr. Reed, who lives in Harlem.

—"At the Office, Taking a Break for the Oath of Office," Fernanda Santos, NYT

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cuốn tiểu thuyết vừa hài...

The Time top ten list looks Vietnamese:

Một tiểu thuyết về đời sống nhân viên văn phòng lấy bối cảnh của một công ty vô danh đang trên đà thất bại. Personal Days khắc hoạ sự căng thẳng ngày càng tăng trong văn hoá công ty, mọi người sống ngày càng khép kín và nhạy cảm với từng trường hợp sa thải đến mức không còn chịu đựng nỗi lẫn nhau. Cuốn tiểu thuyết vừa hài hước vừa đầy chất hiện thực trong giai đoạn suy thoái kinh tế hiện nay.


The Times on employee assistance programs:

The ComPsych Corporation, an E.A.P. provider, observes similar conditions. Calls are up 30 to 40 percent over last year, spurred by unease about job prospects, it said. “There is a sense of panic that we have not seen in our 24 years in business,” said Richard Chaifetz, the chief executive. “We’ve had an increase in calls on anything from feelings of depression or stress to refinancing mortgages, handling adolescents and dealing with bankruptcy.”

Monday, January 12, 2009


Novelist Alexander Chee on Personal Days: "Just go get it."

"It has the rhythm of a real office...The book is compact, its ideas are huge."
Ass Backwords' "2008 Reading Roundup"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

File under: What the?!, part 2

"some lady at my job just gave me a two page letter on how she thinks i would be a great Mormon..." —Malty

Friday, January 9, 2009

"Fear Factor in the Workplace"

EP chimes in at a new Times online section, Room for Debate, next to a psychologist, labor lawyer, psych professor, business professor, and HR consultant.

What is a layoff narrative? It’s a story about your work life that you construct before you get the ax, as one of the characters in my novel explains.

“The idea,” Pru says, “is that you look back on your period of employment, highlight all the abuses suffered, tally the lessons gained, and use these negatives and positives to mentally withstand what you anticipate will be a series of events culminating in expulsion. You look to termination as rebirth, liberation, an expansion of horizons…. Once you start constructing the layoff narrative, it’s only a matter of time.” In other words, to think it’s going to happen means it’s going to happen.

Photo: Peter DaSilva/NYT

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pretty vacant

Vacancy rates in office buildings exceed 10 percent in virtually every major city in the country and are rising rapidly, a sign of economic distress that could lead to yet another wave of problems for troubled lenders. —NYT

21st century box

Books That Feel Our Pain
Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End and Ed Park's Personal Days may be two of the short-list best novels ever written about work—imagine Catch-22, set in mid-sized 21st century offices—but they're more than that, they're finely observed and fully realized renderings of how young professionals live. —Common Sense Dancing

"Books of the Year"
I can't recommend it highly enough if you've had a terrible office job. Park use two different tricky POV's to construct a story full of delicious digressions that never lags for a second. The POV choices also capture the weird hazy timelessness of office life in a way I didn't totally think was possible. —Meg McCarron

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting the ax

Hard Case Crime mastermind Charles Ardai memorializes Westlake for The Guardian:
In his widely acclaimed novel The Ax (filmed by Costa-Gavras as Le Couperet), Don imagined a serial killer unlike any other in fiction. A middle-aged man is downsized out of his job in the paper industry and has a hard time finding another because there aren't many jobs suitable for him, and there are a lot of middle-aged executives competing for the few that are. So he runs his own classified ad for a job that would be perfect for him, collects the résumés of the people who respond, and sets about killing them, one by one. So he can get a job, you see. Not because he's a maniacal super-villain playing a sly game of cat-and-mouse with a handsome police detective. Because he needs a paycheck. It's a stunning, frightening book, inhuman and so very human all at once.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"[T]he office is like another family"

From St. Louis Magazine, a work-oriented interview with Jenna Fischer, of TV's The Office:

What other policies or perks would you add?
I would give people the option of a 90-minute lunch, if they wanted to stay a half hour later in the day or come a half hour earlier. I found that when I was working in an office it was very difficult to go anywhere and have a meal in under an hour. Also sometimes there are those errands that can only be run during the day. If people had a 90-minute lunch, they could accomplish a lot of things mid-day and actually take less time off for appointments and things.