Overqualified

Overqualified

3.8 9
by Joey Comeau
     
 

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Told entirely through job application letters, this starkly humorous story follows Joey as he halfheartedly looks for a job. With his younger brother Adrian in the hospital after being hit by a drunk driver, Joey can’t seem to muster up the energy or focus to properly market his prior work experience. While writing cover letter after cover letter, using all

Overview

Told entirely through job application letters, this starkly humorous story follows Joey as he halfheartedly looks for a job. With his younger brother Adrian in the hospital after being hit by a drunk driver, Joey can’t seem to muster up the energy or focus to properly market his prior work experience. While writing cover letter after cover letter, using all of the right marketing buzzwords, something in Joey snaps—the letters become less about gaining employment and more about emotional release. Anecdotes about his childhood, his hopes and fears, his girlfriend, and his family's response to Adrian’s hospitalization fill the space meant for education, references, and applicable skills.

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times blog
There have been spoof letter-writing books in the past, like The Lazlo Letters by Don Novello (a.k.a. Father Guido Sarducci) and several that followed. While [this] protagonist in is just as unhinged as his predecessors, he's significantly less giddy. A real story unfolds in these pages, about a departed brother and the sibling left behind. It's sad and fragmented and, in places, funny. This slender epistolary novel is charming.
Macleans.ca
Joey Comeau's collection of real cover letters, Overqualified is pretty much sui generis. Not to mention sweetly written, bitter and bitterly funny . . . One of the season's most remarkable books.
Globe and Mail
A collection of wry, clever and demoniacal job-application letters, teeming with knife-edged malice and stomach-tearing hilarity. . . . Successfully deludes the fear of the faceless corporate entity by empowering the faceless applicant who has nothing to lose except securing a job he or she probably doesn't want. If Comeau's rebel-yell manifesto catches on like old Prometheus's gift did all those years ago, human resources will never be the same again.
Scene Magazine
A magnificent and timely curiosity . . . The letters are baffling and amusing at times, poignant or obsessive on other occasions. . . . During a time of economic uncertainty—when the practical and the existential seem eerily akin—Overqualified expresses the irrepressible humanity at the heart of our industries, and affirms the fruits of our many labours.
Quill & Quire
Each letter rapidly digresses into something more akin to a diary entry than a professional missive. There is speculation as to humanity's future, reminiscences from the narrator's childhood, confessions of vulnerability and of sexual desire, all punctuated by vitriolic humour and unsettling instances of violence. There is much frustration in these letters—born of capitalism's absurdities and of personal calamities—but there is also humor, compassion, and joy.
Eye Magazine
Joey Comeau has made the unreadable not just readable, but beguiling in its digressions and personal revelations.
From the Publisher

"There have been spoof letter-writing books in the past, like The Lazlo Letters by Don Novello (a.k.a. Father Guido Sarducci) and several that followed. While [this] protagonist in is just as unhinged as his predecessors, he's significantly less giddy. A real story unfolds in these pages, about a departed brother and the sibling left behind. It's sad and fragmented and, in places, funny. This slender epistolary novel is charming."  —Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy online

"Unlike anything you've ever read. Each of Joey Comeau’s letters comments, sometimes subtley, sometimes not, on the emptiness of the system . . . while it simultaneously reveals the humor, beauty, and pain that is all else in life."  —About.com

"A sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-crushingly sad romp through a man’s swelling nihilism and disenchantment.  —MonstersAndCritics.com

"A collection of wry, clever and demoniacal job-application letters, teeming with knife-edged malice and stomach-tearing hilarity . . . Successfully deludes the fear of the faceless corporate entity by empowering the faceless applicant."   —Globe and Mail

"Joey Comeau's collection of real cover letters, Overqualified, is pretty much sui generis. Not to mention sweetly written, bitter and bitterly funny . . . One of the season's most remarkable books."  —Macleans.ca

"Overqualified's cover letters are like a slap in the face, but the slap is hilarious, and you can't stop laughing, and as soon as it's over you want to tell all your friends about the slap. You know the kind?"  —Ryan North, Dinosaur Comics

"Joey Comeau's Overqualified is Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret as chewed up and spit out by J. G. Ballard. . . . A book whose melancholy is leavened by a surprising hilarity."  —Paul Di Filippo, author, The Steampunk Triology and Cosmocopia

"Joey Comeau has made the unreadable not just readable, but beguiling in its digressions and personal revelations."  —Eye Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554903429
Publisher:
ECW Press
Publication date:
04/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Overqualified


By Joey Comeau, Michael Holmes

ECW PRESS

Copyright © 2009 Joey Comeau
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55490-342-9


CHAPTER 1

Dear Irving Oil,

I am writing to apply for a job with your company, and I have included my resume for your review. You will find that every reference and each previous job will check out as valid, but I think that it's important to be honest: my assigned mission is to take you down, from the inside.

Little things, you know? I'm supposed to fudge your tax records a bit, leave you open to audit. Misdirect shipments. Eat away at your profits. I'm here to speed up the peak oil problem, because after that the world starts getting better.

And it gets better and better, Irving. By the time I'm born, a hundred years from now, there's no crime. There's no pollution. Human beings are living to almost two hundred. Every year that number gets bigger. Scientists say my generation might live forever.

I volunteered to be sent into the past. How could any kid grow up in a perfect world, hearing about crime and violence and war and sexually transmitted diseases, and not think, "Fuck, that sounds exciting." My mission is sabotage, but that does neither of us any good. I want to help you. I don't want to live forever, Irving. I want to live fast and die young. That's a thing, right? I want to be injured in a daring rooftop escape.

I spent seventy years sitting around in classrooms, just learning. Oh, how can we live longer? Oh, how can we make ourselves more perfect? Oh, we're all very wise. But I want to kill something. I want to get drunk in a bar and take a pool cue and fuck up a dude with a scar down the side of his face. I want a scar down the side of my own face. I want to get an alcoholic woman pregnant, and when that little freak squirts out, nine months later, I want to tell him, "Live for today, you retarded little shit. The end is near."

Joey Comeau


Dear HBO,

I want a job fighting professional boxers on your cable network. I have no training. I have no resume. I am small but I am nearly invincible, HBO. Ask anyone. My brother Adrian is in the hospital. He got hit by a drunk driver, and our doctor put a hand on my shoulder and said, "We have to stay optimistic." My girlfriend Susan told me, "He's going to pull through," and my mother keeps saying, "A mother should never have to outlive her children." They've been watching too much daytime TV, I think. Everyone dies in daytime TV. In the movies, the hero lives forever. My brother and I have always lived in a buddy-cop movie. Like good cop bad cop, only we're both the bad cop.

Sometimes my phone rings in the middle of the night and it's John Wayne, crying. He's afraid, and he needs me to tell him everything will be okay. There's a beep and I switch over to the other line and it's Bruce Willis and he's heard that I have a good heart. Maybe I can help him get through this rough patch.

Clint Eastwood is at the door, and he's fallen off his bike. Have I got a Band-Aid? I don't have time for this shit, man, because I've got a train to stop. I have to bring down a madman. I have to unmask the president. I have to punch holes in manholes. I have to tear up payphones like they were phone books.

I don't make collect calls, I make the operator pay.

"Motherfucker," I tell him.

Joey Comeau


Dear Xerox Canada,

Thank you for taking the time to consider my resume, even though I don't have one.

MICROSOFT CANADA JOB HISTORY IBM

I have been programming Perl for eight years, on every business-appropriate platform there is, and I've been around long enough to understand that there are no human beings reading this.

PENTIUM APPLE PARAMOUNT STUDIOS GENERAL MOTORS ENGINEERING

You're a room of machines looking for keywords, the same way that my ISP searches for flagged keywords in my emails and lets the authorities know if I talk about certain subjects.

PERL, UNIX, LINUX, WINDOWS, PRIME MINISTER, PONY, MY PET MONSTER, MIKE DOUGHTY, DANCE, DANCE, DRUNK DRIVER, REVOLUTION, COBOL, PASCAL, ART, DECO, ADRIAN

So I could write anything I want, and your warrior robots will kindly index me because I mention HARVARD, because I mention MIT RESEARCH LABS, because I mention the YALE KNITTING CIRCLE. Your lead robot will look over the lists that the lower robots are churning out, and say,

"There are too many, motherfucker! Sort them by year of graduation, and we'll take the youngest into consideration. They'll work for peanuts." All the robots will laugh in that horrific robot voice. And as long as I get the most hits from the search engines, you'll hire me.

GRADUATED IN 2004 GRADUATED WITH HONOURS JENNIFER LOPEZ HOSPITAL TERROR SUSAN GIRLFRIEND $insurance-name $3psn-vb-pst

So, I'll just load up this email up with keywords RELIABLE PERFECTIONIST LIAR LIAR PERL C++ C# C*&%^$^ VISUAL BASIC AUDIO BASIC JAVA BeOS GENTLEMEN'S SOCIAL and in amongst all the keywords, will your robots find the real message?

I'm coming down there. I have a hammer and I'm going to use it to crack your robots' heads. I'm going to bust open the sides of your machines so that YALE PRINCETON NO CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND SEXUALITY CHECK RESULTS VOTED WHICH WAY spill out all over your shiny marble floor.

Joey Comeau


Dear Absolut Vodka,

I am writing to apply for a position in your advertising department. I have included my resume, which outlines my extensive experience with marketing campaigns, and with the development of brand initiatives for alcoholic beverages. These materials should give you an adequate overview of my professional experience, so I would like to use this cover letter to tell you a story.

When I was eight, my brother and I used to fight to the death on the roof of the barn. There wasn't much else to do out in the country, with those fields and that one red road. Not red like blood. Red like clay. Red like the desert cliffs in western movies. We rode our bikes on that red pavement. We swam in the warm water. We fought to the death.

It wasn't a tall barn, maybe twelve feet high, with old farm equipment laid against the side, rusted spiked ladders for our small hands. We climbed up and stood on that roof. In our heads this was the climax of an action movie. We'd never seen an action movie that took place above a vineyard, but that was okay. This wasn't a vineyard. It was a lost temple, overgrown in the jungle. We made up characters for ourselves. We hummed our own fight music.

Adrian was always a better fighter. He knew how to make me angry, and being angry made me sloppy. I lunged. I tried to shove him and he spun around, throwing me off balance. I fell off the edge, backwards, Adrian laughing. I hit the ground hard and my lungs went empty. Grass in my mouth, mud between my fingers.

I climbed back up, tearing my hands on rust and too angry to care. Adrian laughed until I was right there, until I was up on that barn again and I almost had him, and then he turned and leapt. He never looked first.

I learned that from my younger brother. You don't look first. You jump and you trust that your body knows what to do. You don't know what I mean, do you, Absolut? Your commercials are all pretty pictures and clever design. They're very attractive. I am applying for a job, because I don't think you understand what it means to be cool or strong or invincible. You of all people should know. That is what alcohol does. It makes you strong. You can fight anyone. You can seduce any woman. You can drive faster than death.

Joey Comeau


Dear Levi Strauss & Co.,

I am writing to apply for a retail position, as advertised on your website. I have managerial experience, and I recognize that I am overqualified for sales, but I want something simple. I want to find sizes for cranky customers. I want to come back late from my lunch break, and I don't want to bring my work home with me. I have my own life. Like tonight.

Tonight at dinner my mother showed me three photographs from when Adrian and I were young. In the first, the three of us are sitting in the cage of a fair ride called "The Spider." My mother has huge punk rock hair. Adrian and I are wearing ugly sweaters and grinning because we won. We fought and fought to be allowed on the ride and finally my mother relented.

In the second picture, the ride is in motion and my mother is holding onto the bar, smiling while our little faces are twisted with confusion and horror. Our grins are gone. This was not what we expected. We made a mistake.

In the final picture, Adrian and I are not visible at all, hiding in her lap, crying. In the picture, my mother is laughing, hard.

Anyway, as long as I come to work and do my job, what do you care?

Joey Comeau


Dear Park Lane Mall,

Hello, I am seeking a position as Santa Claus. I am including my resume, but I ask that you also pay special attention to this cover letter — I hope to show why you should look beyond my lack of experience with children to my other outstanding qualifications.

My resume will indicate that I worked for ten years as the foreman of an assembly line at Mattel. Day after day I oversaw the construction of thousands and thousands of toys for children. My employees were mostly middle-aged men, which didn't sit right with me. I used my considerable sway in the company to influence hiring practices, instituting signing bonuses and additional benefits for people of small stature.

I had new uniforms designed! Green slippers and ridiculous hats. I made everyone sing in time as they worked. This was my workshop full of elves. Everything was perfect.

For a while.

You will notice a period of unemployment on my resume, as I faced several harassment suits and three charges of racism from Irish midgets I allegedly referred to as "my North Pole leprechauns." They charged me with theft, too, when they found my bag of toys hidden away behind the lockers.

When I became unemployed I had nowhere else to go. I got very hungry, very fast, and took to sneaking into people's houses, looking for milk and cookies. That's all I ever took, no matter what the police reports said. Milk and cookies. The Jones family filed a fraudulent insurance claim, and they are no longer on my "nice" list. I found that it was impossible to get in through chimneys, so usually I just busted in a window.

I think that my qualifications speak for themselves, and frankly, I think you'd be lucky to have me as a Santa. What kind of person applies for a job like that, anyway, having little kids sit on their johnson all day? Perverts, man. Perverts. I'm doing this because I have no other choice. It's my calling. I don't even like kids.

Joey Comeau


Dear RAND,

I am writing to apply for a job with the RAND Corporation. The first time I heard of the RAND Corporation was on The X-Files, the conspiracy-theory-heavy television show I was obsessed with in high school. I watched every episode. That was the beginning of my paranoia, my belief that there are huge corporations behind everything. That everything that happens in the world happens for a reason.

This isn't the first letter I've written you, though I don't know if you remember. When I was just out of high school, there was a shooting in Colorado. Thirteen dead and twenty-three wounded. Children killed by other children. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of the television with the sound off. I found your address on the Internet, RAND, and I wrote you the following letter.

"I don't understand about Columbine. Please write back."

I know exactly what it said, RAND, because it came back to me unopened. I still have it.

Two years later, when two planes full of people flew into the side of those buildings in New York City, I wrote to you again. I was in university, sitting in a cafeteria full of people, looking up at the television monitors and trying not to think about that old radio program they made from The War of the Worlds.

I wrote you the following letter, there in the cafeteria: "Dear RAND, right now I feel like I felt in the Museum of Modern Art, looking at those paintings. I know that they must mean something. I know that there must be some reason for them. But I can't see it. All I see is a mess. Those are people jumping from the windows. That is too high up."

And you sent the letter back then, too, RAND. But I understand. The world is full of letters, pointing fingers at the problems, at faults, without suggesting a solution. This letter is a solution.

Why not fake every disaster? Empty planes look just the same on TV. Nobody needs to know the passengers are safe. Empty buildings. Robot jumpers. You could have put a look-alike dummy of my brother on his skateboard in front of a robot drunk driver. It was nighttime, who would know? Fake everyone's death for the cameras, but let them live.

Give me the moon, RAND. I can be your backup plan. We can start a secret lunar colony for the secret survivors! A place where nothing dies, where smiles are free. There won't be any war or pollution or over-population. Every night at six we'll listen to The Shadow, and later on there'll be a comedy for mom and dad.

It's Christmas Eve. We could have a roaring fire.

Yours, Joey Comeau


Dear Gillette,

Do you remember when you were the best a man could get? Before you decided that the best that men could get were faces as soft as baby bottoms? Before you decided that being a man meant being a woman? You need to go back to your roots, Gillette. Forget these gaudy lozenge shaped miracles of modern technology. Bring back the straight razor. That was a product.

You want dangerous? Forget about drunk businessmen and speeding cars. You want Gillette razors against a businessman's throat in an alley. Gillette razors hidden in the mouths of inmates. Hidden under their skin. Scabbed over. Finally dug out with dirty fingers in the dark.

You want coming of age? That has nothing to do with a clean shave. You want a young boy sneaking into his stepfather's bathroom. Sneaking a razor from the box. Hiding it in the brim of his baseball cap. Riding his bike hard and fast to meet his best friend in the woods. A Gillette razor digging into their palms. That one handshake. Blood brothers. You want romance? Nobody gives a fuck about kisses. Gillette razors in bed, cutting while they move against one another. Both of them tearing open, bright and bleeding, eyes wide. Sex, Gillette. Sex.

They're going to buy your razor and shave and go to work, sure, but they're going to buy it because they know they're animals inside. They don't want smiling clean faces. They want blood swirling down the drain. You're selling a product to men who have no other way of touching that part of themselves, the suicide and the murder and the rape.

I can help.

Joey Comeau


Dear Parker Brothers,

Last night I dreamed my brother and I were hanging out at a party, trying to drink as many little bottles of alcohol as possible. We were hoping to get very drunk without anyone noticing. Then I was trying to explain to Adrian how we had the exact same Muppets toothbrush. He was pissed because someone gave him a stale sandwich. All of the other models were sitting around in a classroom, laughing and talking. We were models? Someone was talking about waves. We could hear the waves crashing on the rocks. The whole room went dark, and a girl in the middle was lit from above. Her skin was rotted and bloody black and she looked right at me and she said, very calmly, "A catastrophe is coming."

I have never designed a board game before, but I think I'd be good at it. You roll the dice and make your move. How hard can it be? All you need is a theme. What about disaster? I like that. It's harrowing without being too immediate. Those things happen to other people.

Joey Comeau


Dear Paramount Pictures,

I want to write horror movies. When I was a kid, I was terrified of horror movies. I remember watching Pet Sematary four times before I ever saw more than a flash of the dead guy. I hid underneath a blanket every time anything happened, every time the music came up. I covered my ears.

I liked being scared, though. My grandparents owned a farm, and my brother Adrian and I used to sneak out to the barn in the middle of the night. My grandfather used that barn to store the tractor. It used to be a real barn, though. It was left over from when there had been a farm, not just a vineyard back there. It was old and broken down and perfect for us.

Adrian and I went in there with our flashlights, and there was a room underneath the hayloft. It was small and dark and slick and there were no windows. It was a room where your imagination became full of snorting stomping animals all wet with sweat. Even in the middle of the day, that room was black like horse eyes.

One of us would sit outside and the other would go in, without his flashlight, and see how long he could stand to be alone in that black room. It wasn't the sort of game that anybody won or lost.

I've thought about this a lot, Paramount. I want to write horror movies that scare you, but leave you with the feeling that your brother is right outside the door, waiting, flashlight in hand.

Only, when you call out, there's no answer. And the barn is empty, like your stomach.

Joey Comeau


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Overqualified by Joey Comeau, Michael Holmes. Copyright © 2009 Joey Comeau. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"There have been spoof letter-writing books in the past, like The Lazlo Letters by Don Novello (a.k.a. Father Guido Sarducci) and several that followed. While [this] protagonist in is just as unhinged as his predecessors, he's significantly less giddy. A real story unfolds in these pages, about a departed brother and the sibling left behind. It's sad and fragmented and, in places, funny. This slender epistolary novel is charming."  —Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy online

"Unlike anything you've ever read. Each of Joey Comeau’s letters comments, sometimes subtley, sometimes not, on the emptiness of the system . . . while it simultaneously reveals the humor, beauty, and pain that is all else in life."  —About.com

"A sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-crushingly sad romp through a man’s swelling nihilism and disenchantment.  —MonstersAndCritics.com

"A collection of wry, clever and demoniacal job-application letters, teeming with knife-edged malice and stomach-tearing hilarity . . . Successfully deludes the fear of the faceless corporate entity by empowering the faceless applicant."   —Globe and Mail

"Joey Comeau's collection of real cover letters, Overqualified, is pretty much sui generis. Not to mention sweetly written, bitter and bitterly funny . . . One of the season's most remarkable books."  —Macleans.ca

"Overqualified's cover letters are like a slap in the face, but the slap is hilarious, and you can't stop laughing, and as soon as it's over you want to tell all your friends about the slap. You know the kind?"  —Ryan North, Dinosaur Comics

"Joey Comeau's Overqualified is Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret as chewed up and spit out by J. G. Ballard. . . . A book whose melancholy is leavened by a surprising hilarity."  —Paul Di Filippo, author, The Steampunk Triology and Cosmocopia

"Joey Comeau has made the unreadable not just readable, but beguiling in its digressions and personal revelations."  —Eye Magazine

Meet the Author

Joey Comeau is the author of Lockpick Pornography and Too Late to Say I'm Sorry, as well as the popular web comic A Softer World. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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