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Personal Days: A Novelby Ed Park
Synopses & Reviews
In an unnamed New York-based company, the employees are getting restless as everything around them unravels. There's Pru, the former grad student turned spreadsheet drone; Laars, the hysteric whose work anxiety stalks him in his tooth-grinding dreams; and Jack II, who distributes unwanted backrubs — aka "jackrubs" — to his co-workers.
On a Sunday, one of them is called at home. And the Firings begin.
Rich with Orwellian doublespeak, filled with sabotage and romance, this astonishing literary debut is at once a comic delight and a narrative tour de force. It's a novel for anyone who has ever worked in an office and wondered: "Where does the time go? Where does the life go? And whose banana is in the fridge?"
"Park's warm and winning fiction debut is narrated by a collective 'we' of youngish Manhattan office grunts who watch in helpless horror as their company keeps shrinking, taking their private world of in-jokes and nicknames along with it. The business itself remains opaque, but who eats lunch with whom, which of the two nearby Starbucks is the 'good Starbucks,' and whose desk knickknacks have the richest iconography become abundantly clear. What starts out feeling like a cutesy set of riffs evolves into such a deft, familiar intimacy that when the next round of layoffs begins in earnest, the reader is just as disconcerted as the characters. As office survivors Lizzie, Jonah, Pru, Crease, Lars and Jason II try to figure out who's next to get the axe, mysterious clues point to a conspiracy that may involve one or more of the survivors. By the time answers arrive, Park — former Voice Literary Supplement editor, a founding editor of the Believer and the creator of the e-zine the New York Ghost — has built the tension masterfully. Echoing elements from Ferris's debut smash, Then We Came to the End, Park may have written the first cubicle cozy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"What at first appears to be a Dilbert-esque story soon twists into a dizzying, surreal tale in which even the card-key readers conceal sinister purposes." Details
"Hysterical...Park's story is set in an absurd yet believable workplace where personnel, shutting down their computers for the weekend, earnestly consider the pop-up question, 'Are you sure you want to quit?'" Wired
"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." Cosmopolitan
"Absolutely brilliant and lovable." Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment
"I laughed until they put me in a mental hospital. But Personal Days is so much more than satire. Underneath Park's masterly portrait of wasted workaday lives is a pulsating heart, and an odd, buoyant hope." Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan
"If P.G. Wodehouse worked in a modern-day office, he might have written this hilarious book....I flew through this book, laughing all the way to the Bernhardian ending." Vendela Vida, author of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
Powells first novel (1931), a satire of London lads getting into romantic trouble, drinking too much and living up to their reputation as a lost generation”. Imagine Bright Lights, Big City set in London in 1930. Reviewers have compared it to Waugh and Firbank. The conversations are brilliant and disturbing, deftly rendered, revealing many of the young men as sexist, anti-Semitic, and lacking in talent. Names like Undershaft, Atwater, Pringle, Wauchop, and Brisket add to the humor. As Nicholas Birms writes, The characters have aspirations, both idealistic and self-serving, as well as the mechanisms to cope, through irony and understatement, with the disappointment of these aspirations”.
Written from a vantage point both high and deliberately narrow, the early novels of the late British master Anthony Powell nevertheless deal in the universal themes that would become a substantial part of his oeuvre: pride, greed, and the strange drivers of human behavior.
More explorations of relationships and vanity than plot-driven narratives, Powells early works reveal the stirrings of the unequaled style, ear for dialogue, and eye for irony that would reach their caustic peak in his epic, A Dance to the Music of Time.
In Afternoon Men, the earliest and perhaps most acid of Powells novels, we meet the museum clerk William Atwater, a young man stymied in both his professional and romantic endeavors. Immersed in Atwaters coterie of acquaintances—a similarly unsatisfied cast of rootless, cocktail-swilling London sophisticates—we learn of the conflict between his humdrum work life and louche social scene, of his unrequited love, and, during a trip to the country, of the absurd contrivances of proper manners.
A satire that verges on nihilism and a story touched with sexism and equal doses self-loathing and self-medication, AfternoonMen has a grim edge to it. But its dialogue sparks and its scenes grip, and for aficionados of Powell, this first installment in his literary canon will be a welcome window onto the mind of a great artist learning his craft.
In an unnamed New York-based company, the employees are getting restless as everything around them unravels. Theres Pru, the former grad student turned spreadsheet drone; Laars, the hysteric whose work anxiety stalks him in his tooth-grinding dreams; and Jack II, who distributes unwanted backrubs-aka “jackrubs”-to his co-workers.
On a Sunday, one of them is called at home. And the Firings begin.
Rich with Orwellian doublespeak, filled with sabotage and romance, this astonishing literary debut is at once a comic delight and a narrative tour de force. Its a novel for anyone who has ever worked in an office and wondered: “Where does the time go? Where does the life go? And whose banana is in the fridge?”
Praise for PERSONAL DAYS
"Witty and appealing...Anyone who has ever groaned to hear 'impact' used as a verb will cheer as Park skewers the avatars of corporate speak, hellbent on debasing the language....Park has written what one of his characters calls 'a layoff narrative' for our times. As the economy continues its free fall, Park's book may serve as a handy guide for navigating unemployment and uncertainty. Does anyone who isn't a journalist think there can't be two books on the same subject at the same time? We need as many as we can get right now." —The New York Times Book Review
"Never have the minutiae of office life been so lovingly cataloged and collated." —"Three First Novels that Just Might Last," —Time
A "comic and creepy début...Park transforms the banal into the eerie, rendering ominous the familiar request "Does anyone want anything from the outside world?" —The New Yorker
"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."—Samantha Dunn, Los Angeles Times
"In Personal Days Ed Park has crafted a sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, but always adroit novel about office life...Sharp and lovely language." —Newsweek
"A warm and winning fiction debut." — Publishers Weekly
"I laughed until they put me in a mental hospital. But Personal Days is so much more than satire. Underneath Park's masterly portrait of wasted workaday lives is a pulsating heart, and an odd, buoyant hope." — Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan
"The funniest book I've read about the way we work now." -William Poundstone, author of Fortune's Formula
"Ed Park joins Andy Warhol and Don DeLillo as a master of the deadpan vernacular." —Helen DeWitt, author of The Last Samurai
About the Author
Ed Park is a founding editor of The Believer and a former editor of the Voice Literary Supplement. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review and many other publications. He lives in Manhattan, where he publishes The New-York Ghost. Visit www.ed-park.com.
Table of Contents
Part I. Montage
Part II. Perihelion
Part III. Palindrome
What Our Readers Are Saying
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