Our Beloved 26th

Posted by @ 6:01 pm on February 25th, 2009


The last few years have seen two very good novels about office life, Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End and Ed Park’s Personal Days. (Also, one very good British television program and one occasionally very good, David Foster Wallace-admiring American knock-off television program have appeared, too.)

If you have felt that all of those things have been lacking in a thick coat of misanthropy and violence—besides the thick coat of misanthropy and violence that some see as inherent to capitalism in the first place—Future Tense Publishing has just released a little chapbook called Our Beloved 26th that should satisfy your desires quite nicely.

I saw Kevin Sampsell yesterday*, and he handed me a copy of the book, and told me the author, Riley Michael Parker, is quiet and shy and young. Apparently—happily, really—the young man has some issues.

Our Beloved 26th follows a group of rapacious, racially intolerant, amoral mid-level executives at a nameless company. Employees carry weapons and occasional, there are shootings. And stabbings. And poisonings. And rapes. All told in small sections

The mid-level execs refer to the cubicle drones as “cubans” and they treat them as a slave master treats slaves. Respect is reserved for anyone who works on a floor above the 26th, the home of the narrator and his cohorts.

It’s broad, very dark satire. De Sade’s bedroom philosophers are forced to get office jobs, and they are not happy about it. It’s a messy little book, but a couple of misspellings and punctuation mistakes kind of work to emphasize that the book is really more about the heat and humor on the page. (Still, maybe go ahead and fix them, Riley.)

* I guess there should be a “full disclosure” sort of thing here, right? I don’t know. I know Kevin, and have for a number of years. We’ve read together. He’s published people I know, like, or admire. Some socially and others just as writers. I like Future Tense and will continue to talk about them.

I guess I often just take for granted that the people reading my posts know enough about me to know who I know, but I suppose that’s a faulty assumption based on the fact that my friends Kevin, Shya, Blake, and a few other HTML contributors and regulars comment on my posts. And I think our dear pr is one of the few people who might not know that I have an existing relationship with Kevin. So, for the record:

pr, I know Kevin. Not in a Biblical sense, though.

Later in the week, maybe I will make a list of people I know who I might write about, and from here on in, I can link to that post. Disclosure post. “Follow this link to find out why you don’t really have to trust what I’m saying.”

So, also, I met Joshua Ferris at Bumbershoot, and thought it was really nice that he went to all the book readings even though there were lots of bands to see. It occurred to me that I’m kind of a book geek, too, and I might do the same thing.

And after Ed Park read in Seattle, I tagged along with some friends who went to dinner with him.

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