cover image Personal Days

Personal Days

Ed Park, . . Random, $13 (241pp) ISBN 978-0-8129-7857-5

Park’s warm and winning fiction debut is narrated by a collective “we” of youngish Manhattan office grunts who watch in helpless horror as their company keeps shrinking, taking their private world of in-jokes and nicknames along with it. The business itself remains opaque, but who eats lunch with whom, which of the two nearby Starbucks is the “good Starbucks,” and whose desk knickknacks have the richest iconography become abundantly clear. What starts out feeling like a cutesy set of riffs evolves into such a deft, familiar intimacy that when the next round of layoffs begins in earnest, the reader is just as disconcerted as the characters. As office survivors Lizzie, Jonah, Pru, Crease, Lars and Jason II try to figure out who’s next to get the axe, mysterious clues point to a conspiracy that may involve one or more of the survivors. By the time answers arrive, Park—former Voice Literary Supplement editor, a founding editor of the Believer and the creator of the e-zine the New York Ghost —has built the tension masterfully. Echoing elements from Ferris’s debut smash, Then We Came to the End , Park may have written the first cubicle cozy. (May)