Saturday, December 5, 2009

First-person corporate

"With Jonah’s e-mail to Pru Park manages nothing less than the articulation of a peculiar narrative point of view — first-person corporate — which, incidentally, he marshals throughout the whole of Personal Days to astonishing effect, giving new impetus and texture to Dilbertian anomie. One detects in Jonah’s remarks resonances with Tret’iakov’s biography of the object. But, whereas Tret’iakov wishes to point a way toward overcoming workers’ alienation, Park simply characterizes such alienation in terms consistent with the nature of work in the early 21st century. If Tret’iakov imagines a novel without a hero, Park imagines one without a reader." —Anton Steinpilz, "Building the Mystery: Social Media as Collective Epic," at Generation Bubble

Friday, December 4, 2009

Into the mystic

I talk to the Columbia Spectator about Personal Days, and opine: “Language is never static.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Park-Lim-Hsu in Brooklyn

I'll be appearing today at Page-Turner: The Asian American Literary Festival, at 2 p.m., on a panel with my friends Hua Hsu and Dennis Lim. (It's at Powerhouse in DUMBO.) Lots of other great-sounding speakers, readers, panels—check 'em out!

Here's a bit from an interview I did for Beatrice:
We all know that writers can be exceptionally good at procrastinating when they should be writing. What do you typically do to procrastinate?

This week I spent far too long watching YouTube clips of old Sandra Bernhard appearances on Letterman. I just couldn’t get enough.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November appearances!

I. Thurs., November 12, 7:30 p.m. (TIME CORRECTED!): Reading with Sung J. Woo for Dirty Laundry, at the Avenue A Laundromat (97 Avenue A).

II. Sat., November 14, 2 p.m.: Panel ("Everyone's a Critic!") with fellow critics Hua Hsu and Dennis Lim, for Page Turner: The Asian American Literary Festival. Ground floor, PowerHouse Arena, 37 Main St., DUMBO, Brklyn.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Personal Days — Autumn 2009

Hudson Valleyites! This Sunday, 10/25, at 4:30: I'm at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY, reading with Christine Lehner.

* * *

And on November 14, I'll be appearing with my good friends Hua Hsu and Dennis Lim to talk about criticism at the Asian American Literary Festival. It's at 2 p.m. at the PowerHouse Arena in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unstoppable

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write this book [The Interrogative Mood]?
Padgett Powell: Let us say I received workplace emails exclusively in the interrogative, like this: "Is it time for our esteemed Director [I was the Director] to have a chat with the Provost about our autonomy? Are we remembering what was promised us last spring by the Dean? Will we be content, again, to let History repeat itself?" and let us say I started wanting to have some ready answers: How do you stand in relation to the potato? Do you love the velvet ant as much as I?

And could not stop, for 140 pages.

—CBS

(Via TEV)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reading at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center, 10/25

Hudson Valleyites!

I'll be reading with Christine Lehner (Absent a Miracle) at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center in Tarrytown on Sunday, October 25, at 4:30 p.m. (It's actually in the Philipse Manor Railroad Station...)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reading this Thursday, October 8 at KGB

I'll be reading with two of my favorites, Lev Grossman (The Magicians) and Rivka Galchen (Atmospheric Disturbances), this Thursday at KGB, which is on 85 East 4th St. Doors open at 7.

It's a benefit for "Behind the Book," which promotes reading for schoolchildren and adults.

See you there?!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pushing the envelope

"This small, sixteen-page pamphlet is produced to put inside the postage-paid, business-reply envelopes that come with junk mail offers. Every envelope collected is stuffed with the pamphlet and mailed back to its original company."

(From Fred)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Richard Russo on Morning Edition

Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic, was on NPR's Morning Edition today, talking about his favorite office lit, from Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" to...Personal Days!

Listen here. (Whole show is here.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weds. 9/30 at Columbia....

Getting Personal with Ed Park
Wednesday, September 30, 8PM
203 Mathematics Hall

Columbia Professor and acclaimed novelist and critic Ed Park will give a reading from his novel Personal Days, followed by an open Q&A. Personal Days, one of Time’s top ten fiction books of 2008, was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award and the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize. Park is a founding editor of The Believer magazine, former editor of the Voice Literary Supplement and a contributor to the New York Times and LA Times, among many other publications. The Columbia Review and 114 Rue de Fleurus, the writers’ house of Columbia University, are co-sponsoring the event. Attendance is open and no RSVP is required.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall readings

I'll be reading a few times this fall — so far:

October 8 — NYC — "Behind the Book" benefit at KGB — with Lev Grossman (The Magicians) and Rivka Galchen (Atmospheric Disturbances) (This is, I believe, the third EP/RG reading).

October 25 — Sleepy Hollow (!!) — I'll be reading with Christine Lehner (Absent a Miracle) at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center.

November 12 — NYC — I team up again with Sung J. Woo (Everything Asian), this time at the Dirty Laundry reading series.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quasi semi

If [Shop Class as Soulcraft author Matthew B.] Crawford is correct about the decline of America's information economy, we should brace ourselves for a series of mournful, indignant books that eulogize the modern office—a highly networked, quasi-social, semi-autonomous refuge, where turn-of-the-century workers spent their pleasant days solving problems, exploring the limits of cöoperation, and wasting valuable company time on the Internet. —Kelefa Sanneh, "Out of the Office," The New Yorker

For a eulogy for the pre-Internet office, go here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Remember the pre-Internet office?


Here's an extract from a little EP memoir, up at the L Magazine as part of its "Office Issue":

We used an editing system called Atex, amber letters glowing on dusty screens so old the black fields had burned to brown. A story editor would put an article in the copy queue and one of us would call it up, make corrections, and place our initials in the space at the top. When I first started, I would keep checking the queue and pounce on any new piece. Then I learned to sit back like the veterans in the department and at least finish the chapter I was reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What fuchsia means

"She doesn’t really understand the use of ellipsis so a lot… of her…..emails…look like this…"
Malty

Thursday, August 13, 2009

XOXO

For Daniel Morrison, CEO of the D.C.-based international relief nonprofit 1Well, the wrong sign-off posed an impediment to deeper romance. "I sent an e-mail to a girlfriend, and she was very put off by me signing off with 'Regards,' saying that I sounded very 'emotionally detached,' " Morrison says via e-mail. "We did break up shortly thereafter, so maybe she was right."—Washington Post


(From Jenny)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Richard Russo on PD

BNR: You wrote the introduction to the Collected Stories of Richard Yates, and you once said, "(H)is work is so honest and his vision is so clear, so clear-eyed, that when I'm reading a Richard Yates story, I'll go back to work on something of my own at the desk and I'm suddenly a different person. I see the world differently, and the story that comes out of me is not going be influenced in that sense by Yates, but while I'm there with him, his vision for that period of time is my vision, and it's that way with most really good writers." In the same interview, you also mentioned Alice Munro. Beyond Yates and Munro, what other writers have this effect on you? Are any of them young, up-and-coming writers?

RR: There are several young writers whose vision is so precise and spot-on that I'd follow them anywhere. Joshua Ferris and Ed Park have staked out similar territory (cubical culture) in Then We Came to the End and Personal Days. Doug Dorst's Alive in Necropolis and Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief also took my breath away. And I cannot recommend strongly enough the work of Jess Walter, whose eye and wit are unparalleled. If you want to understand post 9/11 America, he's your guy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cutting costs

The company was owned by old showbiz people. They ran the place like the family they were, and we responded like family. We had each other’s backs. Our loyalty was fanatical. Once, I worked 60 days in a row, got a day off, and worked 30 more straight. My wife was pregnant at the time, but we thought it was worth it. I was building something that would carry us to retirement, with a pension and a body of work behind me that we could be proud of. I got promoted, early and often. The family trusted me, and I trusted them right back. For 13 more years, I was happy as a clam.

Then the management changed.

We were always profitable, but the new guys wanted more. They got it by cutting costs to the bone. I was a cost. I got cut.


—"My Good Life After Being Fired," Lee Child (author of the Jack Reacher novels)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Edward Hall, RIP

Space as a form of communication, a field he dubbed proxemics, embraced phenomena like territoriality among office workers and the cultural meanings of architecture. The use of time as a form of communication can be seen, he argued, in the executive or the movie star who keeps a client waiting for a precisely calibrated number of minutes. His ideas were synthesized in “Beyond Culture” (1976). —NYT

Friday, July 31, 2009

'Retropromozione'

From an Italian blog, squeezed through Google Translate:

'Geniale la figura di Maxine, prosperosa "capa" che alterna comunicati minatori a mail piene di gattini svenevoli, che puntualmente fanno impallare tutti i PC.
Geniale the figure of Maxine, prosperous "capacity" which alternates miners reported a mail svenevoli full of kittens, which are punctually impallare all PCs.'


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

The grass is always greener

When McKenzie Ray plays make-believe, she dreams up a world that is as far from her everyday life as she can make it: she pretends that she works in an office.

“We write letters, put things in envelopes and send them out,” said McKenzie, 11, who with her 10-year-old sister, Maci, has a real life that is the stuff of fantasy for most children. For more than half the year, the sisters travel the West on the rodeo circuit. Their father, Lee, better known as Boogie Ray, makes a living roping steers. —NYT

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Electric company

I once worked a cubicle job. One day I picked up a copy of Dylan Thomas’ Adventures in the Skin Trade on my lunch break, and read as I ate. The stories reflected truth in life which was stifled in mine. Afterward, I found it impossible to return to work. —Electric Literature FAQ

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tonight — July 1 — Korea Society Panel (repost)


Tonight (Wednesday, July 1) I'll be appearing on a panel at The Korea Society in New York, along with novelists Janice Y.K. Lee (The Piano Teacher) and Sung J. Woo (Everything Asian). There's a reception at 6; the panel, followed by Q&A, starts at 6:30.

The topic? "New Currents in Korean American Literature: The Origin and the Distance."

The official info:

A growing number of Korean American authors have found both critical and commercial success in the past decade. Does this "literary wave" mean that Americans of Korean origin have successfully moved from the margins to the mainstream of American literature, writing simply as a "writers" and not as "ethnic writers?" Join us for a literary conversation with novelists Ed Park, Janice Y.K. Lee, and Sung J. Woo, as they discuss issues of acculturation, isolation, cultural alienation, race and class, in relation to their own works.

$10 for members and students, $20 for nonmembers
(Walk-in registration will incur an additional charge of $5.)
Buy tickets
For more information or to register for the program, contact Patrick Clair at 212-759-7525, ext. 328, or
emailThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

About the Authors

Ed Park is a founding editor of The Believer, a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. His novel, Personal Days (Random House, 2008), was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize. He writes a monthly book-review column for the Los Angeles Times and contributes to many other publications, including the New York Times, Bookforum, and Modern Painters. He was an editor and writer at The Village Voice for many years, where he was also the editor of the Voice Literary Supplement. Park teaches creative writing at Columbia University.

Janice Y. K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong, where she currently lives, and went to boarding school in the United States before attending Harvard College. A graduate of Hunter College's MFA program and a freelance writer, she is a former features editor at Elle and Mirabella magazines in New York. Her critically acclaimed first novel, The Piano Teacher, a New York Times bestseller and Richard and Judy Summer Read pick. The book will be published in 23 languages.

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and KoreAm Journal. His debut novel, Everything Asian (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009) has received praises from the Christian Science Monitor, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. His short story “Limits” was an Editor’s Choice winner in Carve Magazine’s 2008 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.



The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(Building entrance on SW corner of
Third Avenue and 57th Street)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chuckling nervously

"I just thought it was weird, just because you and I have been working so many hours together on this Hendricks account, and now you're popping up in my dreams," said Pagano, chuckling nervously and taking a single step back. "Ha, no, totally G-rated."
—"Dream About You Not Sexual, Coworker Reports," The Onion

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Disinformation

Few companies, indeed, are more secretive than Apple, or as punitive to those who dare violate the company’s rules on keeping tight control over information. Employees have been fired for leaking news tidbits to outsiders, and the company has been known to spread disinformation about product plans to its own workers.


“They make everyone super, super paranoid about security,” said Mark Hamblin, who worked on the touch-screen technology for the iPhone and left Apple last year. “I have never seen anything else like it at another company..."


Secrecy at Apple is not just the prevailing communications strategy; it is baked into the corporate culture. Employees working on top-secret projects must pass through a maze of security doors, swiping their badges again and again and finally entering a numeric code to reach their offices, according to one former employee who worked in such areas. Work spaces are typically monitored by security cameras, this employee said. Some Apple workers in the most critical product-testing rooms must cover up devices with black cloaks when they are working on them, and turn on a red warning light when devices are unmasked so that everyone knows to be extra-careful, he said.


—“Apple's Management Obsessed With Secrecy,” NYT

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Korea Society panel, 7/1


On Wednesday, July 1, I'll be appearing on a panel at The Korea Society in New York, along with novelists Janice Y.K. Lee (The Piano Teacher) and Sung J. Woo (Everything Asian). There's a reception at 6; the panel, followed by Q&A, starts at 6:30.

The topic? "New Currents in Korean American Literature: The Origin and the Distance."

The official info:

A growing number of Korean American authors have found both critical and commercial success in the past decade. Does this "literary wave" mean that Americans of Korean origin have successfully moved from the margins to the mainstream of American literature, writing simply as a "writers" and not as "ethnic writers?" Join us for a literary conversation with novelists Ed Park, Janice Y.K. Lee, and Sung J. Woo, as they discuss issues of acculturation, isolation, cultural alienation, race and class, in relation to their own works.

$10 for members and students, $20 for nonmembers
(Walk-in registration will incur an additional charge of $5.)
Buy tickets
For more information or to register for the program, contact Patrick Clair at 212-759-7525, ext. 328, or
emailThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

About the Authors

Ed Park is a founding editor of The Believer, a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. His novel, Personal Days (Random House, 2008), was a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize. He writes a monthly book-review column for the Los Angeles Times and contributes to many other publications, including the New York Times, Bookforum, and Modern Painters. He was an editor and writer at The Village Voice for many years, where he was also the editor of the Voice Literary Supplement. Park teaches creative writing at Columbia University.

Janice Y. K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong, where she currently lives, and went to boarding school in the United States before attending Harvard College. A graduate of Hunter College's MFA program and a freelance writer, she is a former features editor at Elle and Mirabella magazines in New York. Her critically acclaimed first novel, The Piano Teacher, a New York Times bestseller and Richard and Judy Summer Read pick. The book will be published in 23 languages.

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and KoreAm Journal. His debut novel, Everything Asian (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009) has received praises from the Christian Science Monitor, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. His short story “Limits” was an Editor’s Choice winner in Carve Magazine’s 2008 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.



The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(Building entrance on SW corner of
Third Avenue and 57th Street)

It looks like a game of Missile Command

The Geography of Jobs

(via the Rumpus)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Extra-strength anvil

"I was at IBM for five years; I don't know how much work I did," Foxworthy said.

The comedian, who said he used to make prank phone calls to his boss at work to lure him back and forth from his desk, had this tongue-in-cheek advice for people about how far to take things on the job:

"You don't really want to get fired; you want to have a job. But you don't want to do it well, because you're going to be promoted, and that's a lot of pressure. Who can have any fun with that kind of anvil hanging over your head?"

CNN.com


The lost Ark

"This reminded me of a slightly darker Douglas Coupland."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Straight man

"I almost wet my pants reading that. It was so funny." —Richard Russo on Personal Days, at BEA

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Life is sharp

"Here's a novel for anyone who feels alienated at work (ie most of us)....Park's eye for the minutiae of office life is sharp: self-Googling, computers that won't correctly format CVs that shouldn't be being written; sexual tensions; smokers who stub out their fags when the boss comes to join them; the Good Starbucks and the Bad Starbucks. That self-conscious, ironic obsession with the trivial that smart metropolitan Americans do so well is much in evidence. (Wherever did the absurd myth that they don't do irony spring from?) This is as funny as Seinfeld." —The Independent

Monday, June 1, 2009

What do you do?

Alain de Botton:

Beyond the page, work remains at the center of our identities. It is hard to have a conversation with a stranger for more than a few minutes before needing to ask, "What do you do?"—for herein lie clues not only to monetary status, but more broadly to one's entire outlook and character. The literary silence is puzzling and regrettable, for it denies us the chance collectively to honor the excitement of work as well as to reconcile ourselves (through laughter and tragedy) to its inequities. —The Boston Globe

We got your "ambitious new literature of the office right here," bub!

(Via The Elegant Variation)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

D'oh!

"Witty and engaging, this novel is to corporate America what The Simpsons is to the American family."

From the Ramsey County (MN) Library's list of the "Best Books of 2008."

The *very* bad Starbucks?

“This is the real deal?” she said. “I’m explaining it like it was a movie,” she said as she grabbed the girl’s hand and hurried away. —NYT

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rage against the macheese

"[Burn This Book is] a slim volume, one that can be read in an afternoon, but don't let this fool you into thinking it lacks power. Morrison's—and the book's—central thesis is true, if not necessarily original: 'A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.'

"It's the book's writing quality, itself, that speaks the loudest. Given our Internet world of lazy thinkers, it's almost a shock—certainly, an awesome delight—to read writers of such caliber take on threats to reading's very existence....So Pamuk, also a Nobel Prize winner and Turkish free-speech advocate, chronicles in "Freedom to Write" how shepherding Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter inside Turkey's post-coup 1980s crackdown years helped to infuse his writing with a sense of political angst. Novelist Ed Park, a Web columnist for The Times' book section, rages at book censorship in an odd, futuristic Q & A about Robert Cormier's "I Am the Cheese" (1977), banned in the late 1980s by the school superintendent in Bay County, Fla.

L.A. Times

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting through the day

"I feel like I’m in Ed Park’s novel, ‘Personal Days’. Everyone is fearing for their jobs, gossiping who is next....The thing is, as much as I complain about my job, without it I’m pretty much lost. Plus my love/hate relationship with my coworkers is what gets me through the day..."
Malty

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tall cotton

Burn This Book is a Buffalo News Editor's Pick. Jeff Simon calls it "a superb, wildly disparate collection of writers being brilliant about the beleaguering of their own profession—everyone from John Updike, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Russell Banks, Paul Auster and Nadine Gordimer to Pico Iyer, Francine Prose and former Buffalonian Ed Park (walking in tall cotton)..."

Shyness can stop you...from recommending PERSONAL DAYS!

Ask about any good books: I love knowledge workers who ask me to recommend any good business books. Shy people can definitely benefit from this since this will give you insight into the type of manager your boss is just by the type of business books they recommend. Asking about recommended reading also demonstrates that you’re committed to self-learning and mastering your skills.

—"5 Tips to Overcome Shyness at Work"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Summer 2009 Café Arts

I'll be kicking off Café Arts' Summer 2009 series on Monday, May 4, with a talk on "The Amnesia of Influence."

It's at PicNic Market Café, 2655 Broadway (101/102 streets). The event starts at 6 p.m.

(More information here.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tomorrow (4/29)! Book Culture!

Tomorrow night (Weds.) at 7, Ed reads from Personal Days and talks to Damion Searls, a noted translator (Walser, Rilke, et al.) and the author of a dazzling book of short fiction, What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going. This event is at Book Culture, 112th St. off Broadway. (Click here to see the poster.)

My blurb for WWD&WWG begins: "I've read books this pleasurable before, but most of them have been in my dreams..."

* * *

And next Monday (5/4), come hear Ed's talk, "The Amnesia of Influence," at the Columbia Alumni Association's Café Arts evening at PicNic (101st and 102nd)—$10 (includes free drink...you'll need it...)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Between 4th and 100th

Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?

In my twenties I memorized the prices of the cheap meals I regularly ate — the lunch special at Taj Mahal on 4th Street, for example, or the big roast chicken at the now defunct Cuban Chinese place near 100th. I would make sure I had the exact change necessary for the tip, so that I could put the money on the table and leave quickly. I don’t know that this had any value beyond contributing to my ability to tell you this story now, years later.

—"Ed Park Regrets This Interview," The L Magazine



Reading this Thursday (4/29), 7 p.m. at Book Culture, with Mr. Damion Searls (What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Which one was the "Good Starbucks"?

For as long as mankind has occupied New York, there have been two Starbucks locations on Astor Place, a block away from each other, which occasioned many predictable remarks. No more! This means everything. —Gawker




(From Mark.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

The EP rundown

I. Upcoming readings:
Tues., 4/21 Pacific Standard (with Nathaniel Rich)
•Weds., 4/29 Book Culture (with Damion Searls)
Mon., 5/4 Café Arts (talk)
(Click here for more details.)

II. Latest story:
"Untitled," in the debut issue of Gigantic (print only). Features work by and talk with/from Gary Shteyngart, Joe Wenderoth, Deb Olin Unferth, Tao Lin, Malcolm Gladwell, Lauren Spohrer, Doug Elsass, Justin Taylor, and many others.



III. Latest Astral Weeks column:
On Christopher Miller's The Cardboard Universe: A Guide to the World of Phoebus K. Dank

IV. Latest edition of Personal Days
Vintage (UK) paperback, only £7.99!

IV. Upcoming publications:
Read Hard: Five Years of Great Writing From The Believer (McSweeney's, June)

Burn This Book, ed. Toni Morrison (HarperStudio, May)

"The Freud Notebook," in Post Road #17

"This Is the Writing You have Been Waiting for," introductory essay for Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Exilée and Temps Morts: Selected Works (UC Press, September)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Create-a-caption

This week's New Yorker caption contest — an island in a sea of cubicles.

(From Jenny)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

OK!

Exciting news — Book Smart Tulsa, "a new way of looking at the role of books in our community," has selected Personal Days as its first title.

Here's an article from Tulsa World: "Book Pub Is Like a Book Club, Only Cool."

Can't wait to hear what people think!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"No comment"

Or, "Nice work if you can get it, Ch. XVIII":

Although she’s not yet sure exactly what she’ll be doing on her trip, she has some ideas. She would like to teach English to monks in Sri Lanka and possibly help bring solar power to remote parts of the Himalayas. She’ll probably hit 10 to 15 destinations around the world, most likely practicing not-for-profit law wherever she can be helpful.

The best part of all: Skadden is paying her about $80,000 to do it.

—Susan Dominus, NYT


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Upcoming dates — 4/21 in Brooklyn, 4/29 in Manhattan

On April 21st at 7 p.m., I'll be reading at Pacific Standard in Brooklyn, with Nathaniel Rich (The Mayor's Tongue). More info here.


And...click this poster:



Or if you don't want to click: I'll be talking to (and reading with) Damion Searls, author of a wonderful new collection of stories, What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going (great title, too), at 7 p.m. on Weds., April 29, at Book Culture (536 W. 112th St.) in Manhattan.

My embarrassingly long blurb on the back of Damion's book reads, in part: "He can conjure a word like neodisjunctivist and make you like it."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Loop

ERROR: Error: An error occurred loading the first error.”

(From Erasing)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The final cut

Another dream:

I had a dream i was a secretary, or was playing one in a movie. i took notes on a pad of post-its, asked them what sort of “made-up title” a man i was asked to contact held. Everyone cleared their throats. I knew it was a misstep. Drew Barrymore was there and we shared little winks and laughs with each other in between takes; I took an immediate liking to her, but soon noticed her disgusting teeth, yellow brown, coming out of the wrong places— as I performed my lines i wondered if we were having a rehearsal, and these were just her real teeth the public never got to see, or this was the final cut and they were necessary to her character in some unforeseen way.

(More.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quietly skulking

Levi writes:
I dreamed last night that I was in some sort of Personal Days stage play immersion theater thing: as in, they somehow gave each audience member the chance to go up on stage and experience being laid off, and either quietly skulking out or tearfully saying goodbye to the office friends whose worth and importance they'd only now realized.

It was very strange, but it seemed to be successful; there were lines around the block.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Out of control

Profanity in the office.

The Manny diaries

Within two days, she had waded through everything, consulting with me over what to toss and what to file under which category. We came up with dozens — Education Story Ideas, Bills, Manny Ramírez, Poems I Love, Expense Receipts, Letters from Mom and Dad — and she created a place for each...—NYT

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No Lucky Jim?

At the Book Culture blog: What Ed Park's students are reading.

(EP appears at Book Culture for a reading and conversation with Damion Searls (author of the excellent What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going) on April 29.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scents and sensibility

Woah --

I think this is what Maxine wears?

yrs,
Lizzie

PS "Sprout" — an anagram of Proust...!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Executioner's song

On This American Life: "Host Ira Glass talks with a veteran Human Resources administrator about what it's like to fire people, and why it helps if you don't actually use the word 'fire.' "


(Click here to listen.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bright future

Weary of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own

Alex Andon, 24, a graduate of Duke University in biology, was laid off from a biotech company last May. For months he sought new work. Then, frustrated with the hunt, he turned to jellyfish.

In an apartment he shares here with six roommates, Mr. Andon started a business in September building jellyfish aquariums, capitalizing on new technology that helps the fragile creatures survive in captivity.

“I keep getting stung,” he said.

NYT

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who would you throw overboard?

From Driftwood Singers Presents:

They’re laying off a shit load of humans at the work place. We’re all meditating on our dispensability. It’s like corporate zen. People are playing the game of trying to figure out who will go first – pairs of peers congregate outside (the water cooler’s no longer safe, and, plus, they’ve stopped providing us with coffee, so there’s less of a reason to be there), whispering, some teary-eyed, some giddy from the whole facing-the-firing-squad-concentrates-the-mind effect. It’s like the opposite of fantasy sports leagues. Nightmare employment league. Who would you throw overboard? The rodent-like mind takes over, and the gnawing and clawing survival instinct starts to do shameful things. But I’m trying not to feast on carrion comfort. Like G. M. Hopkins says, “my chaff might fly.” It’s all in the wind.

(Click for original post and two songs.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Suddenly this spring

Ed's piece "The Sudden Sharp Memory," about Robert Cormier's novel I Am the Cheese, will appear in Burn This Book (Harper Studio), edited by Toni Morrison, this May. Contributors include Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Nadine Gordimer, John Updike, and others.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tonight at 6:30 in NYC


3/12: Ed reads from PD at the Gallatin Teacher's Reading with Sharon Friedman and Ritty Lukose.

It's at the Bronfman Center on 7 E. 10th St.

* * *

Last night he dreamt he had to buy a manga called Aztec Camera.

* * *

The Hartford Advocate on Personal Days and other layoff lit:
Park's novel is both comforting and terrifying in its dead-on-ness. It perfectly captures the gritty angst of the workplace: the sort-of-weird quasi-friendships that form over drinks and talk of work and other coworkers; the awkwardness that squeamishly comes with the laying off of a colleague; the dull, maddening meaninglessness of business-speak. Park illustrates the office so well you could literally cry. That's dramatic, perhaps, but so is the unbearable tension of waiting for an unspecified number of your colleagues to get "the tap" from a shifty-looking HR dude (or dudette).

Monday, March 9, 2009

April 21 reading

I'll be reading with Nathaniel Rich (The Mayor's Tongue) on April 21 at 7, at Pacific Standard in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

(More here.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

PD news flashes

News flash!

Personal Days
is a finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award!

* * *

On April 29, at 7 p.m., Ed joins Damion Searls (What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going) in conversation at Book Culture on W. 112th St.

(Click here for other March and April appearances.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Upcoming readings

Thurs., 2/26 Word Books, Greenpoint, 7:30 p.m., with Deb Olin Unferth (Vacation) and Brian Baise

Tues., 3/10 Talk/panel at the New York Society Library, 10 a.m.

Thurs., 3/12 Gallatin Teachers' Reading, 6:30 p.m., Bronfman Center (7 East 10th St.), first floor

Tue., 3/31, First Proof Series at Vassar College, 5 p.m., Class of '51 Reading Room, Vassar Library. (More info here.)

Tue., 4/21, Pacific Standard, 7 p.m., 82 Fourth Ave., Brooklyn. With Nathaniel Rich (The Mayor's Tongue). (More here.)

Thinking inside the box



(Via Doretta)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yo!

Ms. Piotrowski said she received cover letters that had no salutation at all or began with “Hey there” — not a strong start. —"A Cover Letter Is Not Expendable," NYT

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February is Personal Month

Two readings this month!

1. On Wednesday, Feb. 18, I'll be reading at the Ding Dong Lounge (929 Columbus Ave., btw. 105 & 106), along with James Yeh and other gifted students from Columbia's Writing Division. Starts at 8.

2. On Thursday, Feb. 26, I'll be reading at Word bookstore (126 Franklin St.) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. My co-readers are Deb Olin Unferth and Brian Baise. Starts at 7:30. (Map here. I'm going to need it!)

These two locales could not be farther apart.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Women and men

"Of the thousands of job cuts, 82 percent of those getting laid off are dudes."

New York on a NYT article.

Not thinking about Kit-Kats

Correspondent: Interesting. I want to actually talk about this notion of self-esteem. I mean, you were fighting, I think, esteem issues on multiple fronts. You had the weight loss and the job scenario and the unemployment. How much do you feel that, for example, your employment history and your employment scenarios tied into the obstacle of losing weight? You point out that staying busy at work “didn’t give you time to think about Kit-Kats and hamburgers and your general state of fatness.” And I’m curious. When did you detect these particular connections? Or by compartmentalizing them, as you indicate in your last answer, this was a way for you to tie all the various threads together.

Reid: Yeah, I think the more I tried to compartmentalize everything, the more I realized they were all connected. And it was pointless for me to try and separate everything. Because one issue rolled into another. Staying busy at work, like I said. Not thinking about Kit-Kats. And then when things got really stressful at work, I would find myself reaching for the Kit-Kats. So it’s all quite a big mess, I think, in the end. It’s not possible. I think I kept it up for about five years — these two separate identities and everything. But in the end, I think when I finally came out of the closet and stopped trying to hide parts of my personality from other people, that’s when I did tackle all of the problems and come out of the other side.

Bat Segundo Show with Shauna Reid

You are here


chart 1 from ml on Vimeo.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The last of the jobs

"Is that the last of the jobs? I'm getting really tired of having to hear about layoffs all the time."
—"55,000 Laid off Monday," The Onion

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aprés moi

"I like it when they dress up like middle managers," said Nakajima, twirling her girlish pigtails with one alabaster finger. "You know, with the sweat-stained dress shirts, and the office clipboards, and the khaki pants that are 2 inches too short."

—"Asian Teen has Sweaty Middle-Aged Man Fetish," The Onion

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?"

(Via.)

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

Whoa

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)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Busybodies

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

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

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 cool...in 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.

EAP!

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

Go!

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.