Ed Park - Personal Days (3 stars)

Ed Park - Personal Days

(Jonathan Cape)


Set in an unnamed New York company, Ed Park’s quirky debut begins like a Dilbert cartoon or a particularly deadpan episode of The Office. A group of interchangeably fireable wage slaves, their jobs ill-defined even to them, develop close but fickle bonds through email, unrequited crushes and second guessing which management intrigues are plotting their personal doom. Related in a wry, emotionless prose by an unidentified narrator, Personal Days is amusingly spare, yet soon becomes something darker, aspiring perhaps to the unblinking horror of Joseph Heller’s corporate schlub epic Something Happened.

Ultimately, Park doesn’t have the stomach for this though, retaining an ironic distance and skewing his novel into a daft, paranoid thriller when a rogue element joins the company. For a subtler study of insidious corporate politics and psychosis, try Peter Cook and John Cleese’s overlooked film The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer instead.

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