Personal Days, By Ed Park

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The Independent Culture

Here's a novel for anyone who feels alienated at work (ie most of us). A group of New York office workers in an unnamed corporation whose business is never disclosed bicker, joke, compete, flirt and fret about who'll be fired next. It's written in three sections: the first, a present-tense, first-person plural account of daily office life; then a past tense, third-person account, wherein the extremely funny and sinister new employee, Grime, makes his appearance; finally, a long email, written without full stops on a laptop in a broken lift, which (sort of) explains everything.

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.