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book review:


Pathetic honesty and genuine sadness run through Joey Comeau’s book of cover letters. “Dear Goodyear, I’d like a job, please. You probably don’t hire strangers. I used to climb mountains of your tires in my grandfa­ther’s salvage yard. My name’s Joey Comeau. There. Now we aren’t strangers anymore.”

Written with humour and self-deprecation, the letters embody the frustration of writing job applications. These are the kind of letters we would all rather write.

“Dear Hallmark, Mother’s Day is fine, I guess. Except some people have lost their mothers. And some people have lost their fathers. Not everyone has family. You want a holiday with wider appeal.”

Comeau has lost his younger brother, who was hit by a drunk driver and killed. His bitterness and loss take shape in making new sexual requests of his girlfriend and inventing an alternate identity on Yahoo Chess: “Actual­ly, halfway through writing this email, I real­ized there is no connection between strategy and my actions. These transcriptions don’t show my skill as an analyst. On reflection, they show only that I like to pretend to be a girl on Yahoo Chess so I can talk dirty with other men. Please hire me?”

Nostalgia and memories surface gradually, so that reading cover letter after cover letter doesn’t get boring. The book is organized into three parts. The first part is the most imagina­tive and child-like and includes a Santa fan­tasy in which, as foreman of an assembly line, he forces his workers to wear green uniforms and peaked hats with bells on them. It also includes childhood memories of his brother. The second part details his online adventures and everyday sexual fantasies. By the third his girlfriend has left him and he applies for a job giving guided tours of his ex-girlfriends in Nova Scotia. He says his younger brother was always the one who had more luck with women. (Sarah Nelson)

by Joey Comeau, $14.95, 94 pgs ECW Press, 2120 Queen St. E Suite 200, Toronto, ON, M4E 1E2

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