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Review: ‘CV’ by Emily Peters

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Peters’ ‘CV’ (or Curriculum Vitae to give it its full title) is a work of breathtaking scope and imagination that aims to examine and critique the entire adult life of its protagonist while also quantifying their worth in the modern post-industrial employment landscape.

A short read at little over 2 pages ‘CV’ is ostensibly an autobiography. Written entirely in stark, minimalist experimental prose, life events are catalogued bloodlessly in the third person with decades of emotional turmoil and mortal struggle boiled down to a series of routine menial tasks in a scathing commentary on the value of human beings in neo-liberal economies. This is set in stark contrast to the somewhat more playful “cover letter” introductory chapter, which addresses the reader directly in order to praise their achievements as aspirational milestones.

Taking her cues from Nabokov, Beckett and McEwan, ‘CV’ uses the device of the unreliable narrator to great effect, taking the smallest and most insignificant of events and transforming them into a fragmentary yet intimidating monolith of meaningful achievements. In some instances the reader begins to suspect that particular events may never have happened and have simply been fabricated by this so-called “Peters” to bolster her deluded (and, one suspects, increasingly depraved) series of attempts to “get a job”.

In an unusual move, Ms Peters has included advance reviews of ‘CV’ within the body of the work itself, thus adding another absurd layer of self-referential fantasy to the whole weird charade. For example, “a former employer” describes Peters as, “a pleasure to work with. A quick learner with a real eye for detail.” This obvious reference to intersectionality in the structurally patriarchal workplace will ring true for many readers, though I wonder if anyone will pick up on the cultural displacement?

‘CV’ would be the perfect holiday read for the HR or recruitment consultant in your life.

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