ECW Press, 2009

Actually, they are freaking hilarious in the hands of Joey Comeau. But I just need to back up a bit.

I need to say that, since I started my Fridays are for Letters, I have only read two of the books that I planned to read.

Stuff happens and I end up reading other things. Still books about letters, but others.

Most of the time that’s your fault. Nearly all of the time actually.

Because you go and mention something and then I want to read (or re-read) that.

This time it’s Joey Comeau’s fault. Not that I’ve ever met him, but it’s still his fault.

I picked up One Bloody Thing after Another earlier this season (because it was nominated for a ReLit Award) and I loved it. I was planning to just read the first few chapters, but I had to keep reading.*

Hmmmm. It’s starting to sound like I’m really disorganized and untrustworthy when it comes to reading.

I say one thing, I read another.

But that’s okay. Because it’s all in the spirit of the cover letters in Overqualified.

The letter-writer is definitely not putting his proverbial best foot forward.

Maybe he started out writing “proper cover letters”. But that’s not what got printed.

Sometimes they start out okay, like the one to Levi Strauss.

“I am writing to apply for a retail position, as advertised on your website.”

Sometimes they aren’t typical but not necessarily off-base; they could even be viewed as creative, like the way the letter to Samsonite begins.

“I found an old suitcase in my grandmother’s basement two weeks ago.”

But it doesn’t take long for things to go down-hill.

“You start threatening instead of begging. You tell impolite jokes. You talk about your childhood and your sexual fantasies. You sign your real name and you put yourself honestly into letter after letter and there is no way you are ever going to get this job. Not with a letter like this.
And you send it anyway.”

And just as that’s true of the letters, it’s true of Overqualified, too. (I really want to quote longer bits from the letters, but I think they are most effective when read all-in-one-go.)

There are some really very funny bits. But although the letters aren’t dated, you can tell that some time has passed between Part One and Part Three.

It might not actually be very long. Writing cover letters can get you down pretty quickly. Maybe it’s just a week or two.

However long a period of time that Joey Comeau’s letters span, there is, over time, as much sniffling and sighing as there is laughing.

(Actually, there are glimmers of that just a few letters in. And there is a story to be pieced together from those letters, a narrative lurking beneath.)

Well, it’s like that, when you’re overqualified and underemployed: everything is all mixed up.

* (It’s so spooky and sweet and creepy and sad. Just as there is such a mix of emotions in Overqualified.)

Companion Read:
Sam Savage’s The Cry of the Sloth (2009)