Personal Days
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Personal Days

3.2 (1,246 ratings on Goodreads)
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Description

Ever wondered what your boss does all day?Or if there is a higher - perhaps an existential - significance to Microsoft Word malfunctions? This astonishing debut is a scathingly funny look at a group of office workers who have no idea what the unnamed corporation they work for actually does.When it looks like the company may be taken over, fear of redundancy unleashes a deliciously Kafkaesque plot full of the tedium and mistrust of corporate life and the backstabbing bitchiness of our survival-of-the-fittest instincts. We meet Pru, the ex-grad student-turned-spreadsheet drone; Laars, the hysteric whose work anxiety follows him into his tooth-grinding dreams; and Jonah, the secret striver who must pick his allegiance. Assailed from all sides, Park's idiosyncratic cast of characters battle paranoia, boredom and the complexities of the lunch break as each struggles to figure out who among them is trying to bring the company down - and why. Rich with Orwellian doublespeak, filled with sabotage and romance and capturing the relentless monotony and paranoia of office life with uncanny precision, Personal Days is a novel for anyone who's ever worked in an office and wondered, 'Where does the time go? Where does life go? And whose banana is in the fridge?'show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 26mm | 299.37g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0224082418
  • 9780224082419
  • 1,258,419

Review quote

""Personal Days" feels like a lot of jobs do. It starts off a lighthearted adventure in white-collar living, then spirals into something more sober. [Park's] sardonic humor will ring true to cube monkeys everywhere, and he succeeds in creating an oddly haunting, ultimately entertaining portrait of office life and the tenuous yet powerful relationships we build with colleagues." -"Fast Company" "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""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""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" "A warm and winning fiction debut." -- "Publishers Weekly""" "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" "I flew through this book, laughing all the way to the Bernhardian ending."-- Vendela Vida, author of "Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name""The funniest book I've read about the way we work now." -William Poundstone, author of" Fortune's Formula""EdPark captures the camaraderie and confusion of a gang of coworkers trying desperately to maintain their sanity in a randomly cruel, always-downsizing corporate world." "It's the ideal read for anyone who has ever felt possessive about a stapler, confused by their boss's behavior, or suspicious of the stranger who works two cubicles down." -- Amanda Filipacchi, author of "Love Creeps" ""Personal Days" is" "an existential ghost story for the twenty-first century, and most enchanting contribution to 'Office Lit' since Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine,"" -- Jenny Davidson, author of "Heredity """show more

About Ed Park

Ed Park was born in 1970 in Buffalo, New York. He is a founding editor of The Believer and the former editor Voice Literary Supplement. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. He lives with his family in Manhattan, where he publishes The New York Ghost.show more

Review Text

An entertaining, if slightly disappointing, debut.The setting is an office. The goods and/or services provided by the company depicted are never defined, but, clearly, business is not good. There have been firings. Using the first-person plural, Park creates a kind of collective narrator to explore the lives of employees still clinging to their jobs. The use of the first-person plural is a bold, distinctive choice, driving home the point that office jobs have the capacity to render the individual irrelevant, but it would have looked a little bolder and a whole lot more distinctive if Joshua Ferris hadn't done exactly the same thing in the National Book Award finalist Then We Came to the End (2007). The two novels are not - despite several notable similarities - quite as indistinguishable. Park's assay is shorter, for one thing, and it closes with a 40-plus page sentence (presented in the form of a letter). This passage is easier to read than one might expect: Park ends his tale of commonplace drudgery by turning it into an office thriller. Dark secrets are revealed, nefarious plots foiled. The ending is both gripping and disappointing. Park is very good at capturing the frustrations, fears and small pleasures flourishing amid the cubicles. His office-party vignettes, meditations on Microsoft products and depictions of people who are trying to retain their humanity in an environment which makes them interchangeable coalesce into a touching, funny group portrait of corporate underlings everywhere. He undermines this accomplishment, though, when he gives his story a villain - an evil madman, no less - rather than letting the bad guy be the office itself.Kind of like if Office Space ended with scenes from the Kevin Costner vehicle Mr. Brooks. (Kirkus Reviews)show more
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