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Personal Days

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,372 ratings  ·  311 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.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published May 1st 2008)
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3.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,372 ratings  ·  311 reviews

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Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: everyone!
The best book I ever wrote!
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best new novels I've read in years. I feel like none of the reviews I've read of it quite describe what it feels like to read it---yes, it's funny, and the word "savage" appears a fair amount, but it's more like, "Oh, someone has finally described what it is like to work now."
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
The first third of this book is pure genius - painfully accurate for anyone who has ever working in an office.
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
May 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hands down, this is one of the funniest books I have ever read. I laughed from beginning to end and did not want to put this book down. After working in corporate America for years, I could so relate to the characters and the daily interactions of the characters. Love this book!
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very clever, very darkly funny. Echoes of Don DeLillo's White Noise for me. For anyone who lived through dotcom layoffs, this will ring true.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I was ALL IN until the final chapter—not because of the weird run-on-sentence format or anything, I actually really dug that, but because after an entire book with basically no real plot, to shove in this whole “this person isn’t who they say they are and also these things that are happening have a reason that isn’t what we thought and ALSO this character is suddenly engaging with the girl he’s loved from afar and we never saw them interact and now she doesn’t work there anymore” thing didn’t wo ...more
Alex Jiménez
tbh idk how i feel abt this. yay marxist lit though!
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
A few chuckles... but overall just ok.

maybe too close to home as my job ( public university) faces serious budget cuts in the next few months..
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Gave up on this one. It's a clever, funny, satire of office culture, but after a while it's clear that's all it is and all the characters are vile people, including the invisible narrator. Too clever for it's own good. I need a little more heart in my books.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Sep 30, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, american-lit
It would be hard at this point, I think, to talk about Personal Days without also talking about Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, as they’re both novels about office life in failing companies, are both written at least partially in the first person plural, and came out within a year of each other. Then We Came to the End was fortunate enough to have come out first. I feel really bad for Ed Park, getting scooped like that. Both novels are good, though—just in different ways. However, I do ...more
Christina M Rau
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
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
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Chris "Stu"
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
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
Jennifer Busch
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Al Williams
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
Jan 07, 2009 added it
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
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
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
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I'm the author of the novel PERSONAL DAYS and a founding editor of THE BELIEVER. I've co-edited three anthologies: READ HARD and READ HARDER (with Heidi Julavits) and BUFFALO NOIR (with Brigid Hughes). A new novel and story collection are forthcoming.

I've also written introductions to Anthony Powell's AFTERNOON MEN, Russell Hoban's TURTLE DIARY, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's EXILEE TEMPS MORTS, Harold L
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“A few insect skeletons lay scattered on the narrow sill, shiny and precise and sad as broken jewelry.” 14 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!

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.”
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