I gave Kent Woodyard a chance. I really did. Like many of you, I found his Résumé Cover Letter to be gritty yet sublime, and I assumed the sequel would be more of the same. I was wrong. Résumé, Woodyard’s latest, is an exasperating piece of literary claptrap worth less than the single sheet of paper it was printed on and the five to eight seconds it took me to scan it. In the span of only 431 words, Mr. Woodyard somehow manages to sink below even the most underwhelming of his previous outings, including the forgettable Grad-School Application and Senior-Seminar Final Paper.
Résumé’s hackneyed plot opens with the author receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics from an unremarkable liberal-arts college in the Midwest. It then plods along in typical overwrought-memoir fashion through a string of unpaid internships and summer jobs before finally arriving at his humble beginnings as the treasurer of his junior class.
Almost immediately, I found myself feeling as though I’d read this laborious tale a dozen times. My interest was briefly piqued in section 2 when there was mention of “a broad in Hong Kong,” but I was lost for good soon thereafter when he embarked on a perplexing detour through a summer camp for disabled children.
The piece is crippled from the start by Woodyard’s decision to set the narrative almost exclusively in the workplace, a regrettable choice that creates an unsympathetic and one-dimensional character. Even more baffling is the absence of common literary mechanisms like symbolism, dialogue, and denouement. In their stead is a clunky syntax, which is heavy on action verbs and staccato sentences but devoid of passion. I felt nothing as I watched the protagonist acquire college-credit hours, leadership experience, and proficiency with Microsoft Excel. Nor was I the least bit moved by his attempts to galvanize student support for a myriad of pithy causes, from the liberation of Tibet to the candidacy of Ron Paul.
Furthermore, the preposterous parallels Woodyard draws between the qualifications of Subway sandwich artists and marketing professionals at large force me to question the work’s autobiographical integrity. Résumé, particularly the chapter titled “Work Experience,” is probably, at best, only inspired by a true story.
Those of you familiar with Woodyard’s earlier work will recognize the same cumbersome language, creative punctuation, and limited vocabulary that defined the first decade of his career. But there is a new, almost desperate tone to this piece that makes it not only unpalatable but borderline irresponsible. I could be mistaken, but it appears Mr. Woodyard is entreating the reader to not only read his work but to also provide him with a steady flow of cash for the foreseeable future. If this is truly his intent, then Résumé is nothing more than an undignified abuse of authorial power, and I, for one, take personal offense to it.
In keeping with the groveling nature of his writing, Mr. Woodyard has taken to promoting Résumé through a series of prearranged Q&A sessions with local business leaders. I had the misfortune of attending one such session and was appalled at the contrived charade I witnessed. Citing passages from Résumé, Mr. Woodyard attempted to speak at length on the complex themes of dealing with conflict, working in a group setting, and his personal career goals. The whole act left me thoroughly confused and quite exhausted.
If there were any lingering doubts regarding Mr. Woodyard’s incompetence as a writer—indeed, as a person—this bit of tripe should put them to rest. I advise all who value their time and the future of their company to avoid it entirely. If you feel you must throw away five to eight perfectly good seconds, consider staring at your desk as an alternative of equal merit.