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Personal Days Paperback – 7 May 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099520583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099520580
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 914,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"As much a novel of pitch-perfect comic vignettes of working life, Personal Days is the ideal book to read under the table during the next staff training seminar. Park has strayed into Ricky Gervais' territory and may soon be its king" (Observer)

"The funniest novel of office life in decades... A must-read" (Daily Mail)

"Anyone missing Joshua Ferris' Then We Came To The End should pick up this novel" (Esquire)

"Park's wry look at lives ruled by unreliable computers and bad coffee speaks volumes about the choices we make in the name of ambition" (The Times)

"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" (The List)

Book Description

'The Office' meets Don DeLillo in this hilarious debut novel by the founding editor of The Believer.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm loving this book - been reading it v. v. slowly - hoarding it even, like it was confidential between Ed and me -like, in fact, all those women's memoirs (Cutting Up Playboy) or memoir-ish, essayish writing (This Too Can be Yours) I'm so partial to - although of course it's ENTIRELY made up... natch! How best convey its flavour? A cross between Douglas Coupland and The Office? Off-dry but with a lingering finish? Finger-lickin' good? The half-page segment titled All we do is stare (p42-3) is exemplary; here's a sample: 'There's no such thing as *better*. Haven't we learned that by now? Nothing will ever get better, nothing will ever be fixed. Fixing is not even the point.' Compare that searing Buddhist-like truth-saying with this insipid homily from the Updike I've just been dipping into. '"Well, what is free?" he asked. "I guess it's always been a state of mind.."'(!!!) Is this intentional cliché? I fear not. I fear it is what passes in Updike for a lifetime's wisdom. Be wise. Read Park
The more I reread this - and it is my missal - the more I see it as the successor to Generation X (just before the s*** hit the fan)

This avowal committed to the ether prematurely, having just come across Park's thoroughly engaging riff on The Chicago Manual of Style (14th and 16th editions) - is there anything this man can't do? - in last month's Bookforum (which I heartily commend to you - you can sometimes get it at the LRB bookshop). And you don't need to know that Park edits The Believer - indeed you probably need to put that fact from your mind pronto

PS This was published a year after the more celebrated Then We Came to the End. but whereas the latter, though perfectly pleasant, is a bit of a slog, stripcartoony when not plain boring (not to mention several times as long) one never wants this more tender and surreal work to end. Like A La Recherche one can begin it again and again - and I do. I do.
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Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to see the point in Personal Days when the ground has been so thoroughly covered before by Joshua Ferris in Then We Came To The End.

Both books are mildly humorous, covering the intricate social world of office life, and both writers adopt the same devices throughout. There are firings, difficulties with computers and "I.T. Guys", thefts of post-it notes, exiled staff in remote corners, nervous breakdowns. People have mysterious personal lives which cause gossip among colleagues. Emails are mistakenly sent "reply all" causing embarrassment. More successful companies threaten take-overs, new management impose new disciplines which the staff spend their time trying to get round, etc, etc, etc (hard to suppress a yawn at this point).

Far from finding these books humorous, they were actually both rather depressing. Jokes about problems with Microsoft Word, or how voice recognition programs come up with funny text are not exactly original and sound better in the real-life context of work rather than written down on the page - we've heard them all before anyway. I used to work in an office and there are things to recognise here, but why on earth would one want to read about it in leisure time having just escaped for the daily commute home? The blurb writers say that this book has "Kafkaesque plot, full of the tedium of corporate life". While totally disagreeing with the "Kafkaesque", the book is certainly full of the tedium of corporate life".
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Format: Paperback
Surprised at the very 'mixed' reviews and ratings for this book, which is dryly witty and well observed. Yes, there are definite similarities to Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, but maybe that says more about the repetition of office life, which is examined so expertly in both books. As for the claims that it's not funny enough, I would disagree. Like Then We Came to the End, Personal Days excels in a well-judged tone of tragicomedy based on sad-but-true reflections that make will perfect sense to office workers and indeed anyone who contemplates the small wonders and banalities of a working life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This seems to be promoted as a humorous book about office life. If so, I do not share their sense of humour. Anyone who works in an office will recognise some of the stupidities reported here in this rather sad tale of a pointless New York organisation being slowly dismembered. I managed to persevere until the last section, where all is revealed in a stream of consciousness monologue purporting to be an email typed in the dark in a stuck "elevator" on a laptop lacking a full stop. It became as tedious as it sounds and, after first skimming a few pages, eventually I gave up.
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