Personal Days
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Personal Days

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3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,026 ratings  ·  262 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....more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published May 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,094)
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Ed
Oct 20, 2007 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
The best book I ever wrote!
David
You have to feel a little bit sorry for Ed Park, that his book came out roughly a year after Joshua Ferris's infinitely superior "Then We Came to the End". The similarities are staggering - the milieu and plot of both books are virtually identical -- a Chicago/Manhattan advertising/graphic design office, staffed by assorted twenty- and thirty-something professionals, dealing with successive rounds of layoffs and the resulting paranoia. Not only that, use of a 3rd person plural narrative voice an...more
Imogen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meg
Ed Park does something pretty laudable here, which is, he does a lot of things that should be failures and makes them not at all failures, at all. First he takes a subject that is easily hit with words as a side of a barn is with bullets. He strips the subject of a name and a purpose so as to create a dystopia of privilege. He divides his novel into three sections that all have a sort of gimmick. He creates an almost insanely twisting plot/ending. And he does so in a very small amount of space,...more
Aili
Jul 15, 2008 Aili rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Drunk Uncle Joe; anyone who has ever received an email about an imminent server reboot
Recommended to Aili by: The New Yorker
For the record, I am giving this book 5 stars even though I'm pretty mad at it right now... for ending. It was a pretty quick read. I would say perfect for that business trip you're about to go on, but if you get to go on paid business trips you are perhaps not quite in the target audience.

I am a little annoyed that the plot crept up on me -- I was expecting events so mundane they would seem dark/depressing (I've heard And Then We Came to the End is like this, though I haven't read it) -- not ac...more
Jonfaith
Richard Ellmann in his seminal biography, illustrates how Joyce would perambulate, gleaning phrases and word salads from the hum of the city. Consigning such to scraps of paper in his pocket which he would then masterfully weave into the epic which was Ulysses. The first three quarters of Personal days reveal Ed Park simply aligning the scraps into perforated guide to office life.

I was prepared to hate this book. It was simply stat padding on my yearly totals.

The final quarter of the novel is a...more
Kris
I enjoyed parts of this book, but there was a MAJOR issue I had with it. The book is divided into three parts: the first part reads like a regular story, written in 1st person plural - we did this, we saw that, etc.; the second part is written entirely in outline form - I.A.ii.b., etc. - a little annoying, but still fairly easy to follow; but the third part is written as one long, stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence. The premise (to the third part)is that a character is sending an email to a...more
Jim
Jun 15, 2008 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wage slaves
Recommended to Jim by: Alex Heminsley
Shelves: humorous, fiction
Ed Park's book is kind of like The Office meets Kafka. Set in an unnamed company in Manhattan, recently taken over by another company run by faceless Californians, it is a collection of loosely connected anecdotes and observations that captures the absurdity, paranoia, and angst of white-collar wage slavery. Just as we impose meaning on life in hindsight, the plot of this book emerges as it goes along.

The Californians are exerting control and the Firings have begun. There are free-time sucking a...more
Bill
This is a fairly quick read, and actually quite amusing. It's about a group of workers in an unnamed office in NYC. The basic plot concerns the ongoing rash of firings that have been going on. Several former workmates are already past-tense when the story opens. There is also a lot of discussion about how boring/annoying their jobs are, and what an idiot their boss ("the Sprout") is. I kept thinking of Michael from The Office throughout. I won't spoil the explanation of the nickname. Nicknames a...more
Mike
Aug 22, 2013 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

I had completely forgotten why I added this to my TBR shelf back in the last decade. I saw a friend’s TBR addition and thought it had promise. Which it does.

Unlike the fulsome praise of the back cover, I thought it was okay. But I can’t say that it was the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my life, nor can I say that it is absolutely brilliant. And as far as the front cover quote goes, the man is no P.G. Wodehouse! However…

Personal Days is inventive and engaging. Above all else, the author has tr...more
minidmichie
Personal Days, by Ed Park, is not like most novels. The novel starts out as a description of working in an office building located in New York and as you continue reading you discover the struggles and strangeness that the workers have to go through. While the struggles continue, the workers start worrying about the recent firings that have been happening. Past workers and new dramas come bursting into the workers lives causing exaggerated fantasies of having a better life outside the office an...more
Rifftrafft
bob wrote the best review of this book, you can read it here.

as you can imagine, i have extreme biases, so i'll keep this one short. this book is about working in an office. it is really great, really funny. i feel for ed that ferris got the jump on him, because the ferris book is just garbage next to this. almost every other line in _personal days_ is a joke, and most times that joke is really really hilarious. there's none of the mcsweeneys-esque cutesiness i was worried would comprise the ton...more
Christopher
The office and its workers seems to be the preeminent vehicle for any American writer in the first decade of the 21st century - or more rather, the stultifying, soul-destorying mediocrity to which most people submit their waking lives, that is modern work. And so this tale of office workers operating in a faceless corporation with mundane jobs is a familiar construct.

And I guess because this is familiar ground, Ed Park loses marks. He spices up the non-plot with some smart characterisation - we...more
Christina Marie Rau
Much had been made of the Ed Park novel, Personal Days, because it came out right after Joshua Ferris's Then We Came To The End, and they both use the first person plural for narration and they are both about office jobs and they both entail office politics of firing and fear. Fortunately, they are both fantastic in their own ways.

Park falls away from the "we" narration after the first of three parts of the novel. The second part reads like a manual with section labels like 2.b.ii, and the third...more
Chris "Stu"
So it seems weird to wind up reading two books in a month that are both set in offices told in the first person plural. It seems obvious, after the fact, and it also seems like something that just developed independently of each other. _Personal Days_ winds up being more concerned with resolving all the plot threads than _And Then We Came To The End_, which is both good and bad. I think it's definitely worth reading, though.

As a side note, a lot of the reviews I read for this book complained abo...more
Jennifer Busch
This book touched home-base like no other. Short snippets of office life put together just like a real office. In MY old office, things flowed much the way they do in this book; every event was separated by needing to do 30 other things before we could return to the first event. Office gossip was always drawn out because we had to - gasp - work! between breaks.

The three separate styles of writing did a great job of illustrating the deterioration of the company. The book goes from nicely groups...more
Evan
This is a fast-moving book that also requires patience. It DOES all come together in part 3 -- not because the first two sections are faulty, but because the reality of one of the characters ends up making a great statement about the world that the other characters drift through in parts 1 & 2. Ed Park has a great sense of control over his narrative, especially considering how easy it would be to jump all over the place infinitely, there is a clear movement from character to character here....more
Lainie
Personal Days has been compared entirely too often with Joshua Ferris' excellent And Then We Came to the End. Both are good books, but to review this one only by contrast short-changes what Ed Park has done. Taken on its own, Personal Days is achingly precise in depicting office culture under "restructuring." But--and also--it is hilarious, in "a non-ironic way." Okay, maybe it's ironic at times.

I recommend this novel to anyone familiar with cubicle life, especially during Chapter 11 or mergers...more
Stop
Read the STOP SMILING review of Personal Days:

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 complet...more
Alex
Good try. Doomed to be overshadowed by Ferris' Then We Came to the End, a similar tale of cubicle-and-layoff angst also told in the first person plural that got there a year earlier and adds up to more. Park's novel has more details and more jokes, but even thinner character development. Having worked at an internet ad agency during the economic crunch from 2000-2002 and seen the surreal half-empty workspaces and abandoned floors and disappearing co-workers that Park dramatizes I understand his...more
Felicity
Ok, when I first started reading this, I thought that it was the same as Joshua Ferris's book "Then We Came to The End" except that Joshua Ferris's story was better. Both are set in the modern work-place: lay-off fever has gripped the office and both are about the trivial details with which we become obsessed in our daily work days. But in the end, I think it's a dead heat: both books are very funny. Ed Harris's novel definitely improves with reading. By the last section--written in a kind of st...more
Aaron Crabill
I loved this book. Maybe because I hate my job so much, or because it does such a brilliant job of pin pointing all of the stupid, inept, and hilarious parts of working within a large company with a hierarchy filled with lazy, useless, or just simply fake people running the show. The book is engrossing and funny. It's maddeningly depressing in parts because it hits so close to home for, I am sure, a lot of us. At the same time though, it's so funny in other parts that you almost can't go to work...more
Jasmine
I really liked this book on some level it seemed to be more about hanging around than actually about following too much of the story line although of course there was one. The Storyline while it didn't garner a lot of my attention throughout the book had an ending that surprised me which doesn't happen a lot. The narration of the book I also found extremely interesting since it is narrated from a first person that doesn't figure as a character in the book. Almost like Nick in the Great Gatsby if...more
Al
This book affected me on a personal level, bringing back memories and feelings from a career of office work. (I'm not saying it was all desolation and dehumanization, but I'm sure glad it's behind me now. I don't want to ever again have to work for another boss!)

But, you don't have to enjoy living the office life to be able to enjoy a nice comedy on the subject. (The movie, "Office Space," is a good example.) I recommend checking this one out.

(BTW, I'm not sure what I thought about the way the...more
Rachel
Oh, hilariously rendered workplace paranoia! You make my actual workplace so much more palatable. Being reminded to keep the paragraph markers on in a word processing program by a supervisor who signs correspondence "thanks muchly"--what is that in comparison to being emailed a boss's to do list to print out or, the more vast more diabolical plot that is actually taking place.
Also, fake inspirational quotes on getting ahead are excellent. I would like a calendar full of them to put next to my co...more
Katherine
I liked this book as much for its with and cleverness as I did for anything else. At the end of the day, it's not brilliantly written or incredibly exciting, but it's dead on as a portrait of the workplace, and the vague outlines of the characters, the fire about "the firings," the obsession with minor items and ideas at the office, are all brilliant- and fun - and the writer does an outstanding job making you feel in on the joke even as the book strikes a nerve. Well worth it.
Pete Sikora
Funniest book I've read since the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - and I was like 10 years old. An LOLfest.

People in my bookgroup say its a decent portratyal of the corporate world. Really dead on for some people for their office. Which makes me happy. Very cheering.

Plus there are a bunch of individually hilarious stories and plot twists. Who's got the screen play rights? I'd recommend this to anyone.
Beth
Hilarious - if you work in a cube-farm you will very much relate to this. The end is a little convoluted and not as funny, but it's a quick read. I read a review of this comparing it to a modern Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener - needless to say, because it's modern, it's a much easier read. Plus, it has the humor that Melville certainly isn't known for. Short book - novella really.
Charles
Funny, sad, and all too close to home - or rather, too close to work. The last third of the novel tries to tie things up, but (in my opinion) doesn't manage to do so successfully while undermining the first two-thirds of the story with an implausible rationale. Still, especially for those of us working in cubicle farms, the book is well worth reading: you'll laugh through the bitter tears!
Nonakasparov
Jul 08, 2008 Nonakasparov rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Office workers. NYers with jobs
Shelves: novels
Anyone who has worked or attempted to work, or wondered what work was... Anyone who has cut-and-pasted and has reflected upon doing so... Employees in cubicles with computers... Anyone who has been moved or removed by a force beyond one's own control... Anyone maintaining cognitive functions not solely devoted to tools menu commands... read this book.
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I'm the author of the novel PERSONAL DAYS and a founding editor of THE BELIEVER.
More about Ed Park...
Slide to Unlock Trampoline: An Anthology Read Hard: Five Years of Great Writing from the Believer Unstuck Vol. 2 The Believer, Issue 82: The Music Issue

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“A few insect skeletons lay scattered on the narrow sill, shiny and precise and sad as broken jewelry.” 13 likes
“Maxine will sometimes compliment us on our hair or other aspects of our scruffy appearance. The next day, or even later the same day, she'll send an all-caps e-mail asking why a certain form is not on her desk. This will prompt a peppy reply, one barely stifling a howl of fear:

Hey Maxine!
The document you want was actually put in your in-box yesterday around lunchtime. I also e-mailed it to you and Russell. Let me know if you can't find it!
Thanks!
Laars

P.S. I'm also attaching it again as a Word doc, just in case.

There's so much wrong here: the fake-vague around lunchtime, the nonsensical Thanks, the quasi-casual postscript. The exclamation points look downright psychotic.”
3 likes
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